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Recent college grads should understand their health care options

Frank Darras Founding Partner and Disability Lawyer DarrasLaw, America’s Top Disability Firm
Recent college grads should understand their health care options

You’ve just graduated college…taken your last exams, thrown up your cap, and have that pretty diploma in hand. Hopefully, you’ve landed a job and even better that job has benefits. But what if it doesn’t? Or what if you have other plans after finishing your undergraduate degree? Health insurance is still important and recent college graduates should know their options. Here is some expert advice that will help you navigate health insurance after graduating college.


Do

Do keep up to date on new health care laws

With the advent of “Obamacare” in 2012, there has been much uncertainty regarding what exactly the law means and requires. One of the biggest “wins” under the Affordable Care Act is that individuals can stay on their parent’s health insurance until age 26 now. If you graduate at 22, this gives you 4 years to figure things out before you’re kicked off your parents plan.

Do weigh job options based on health benefits

Even though you can stay on your parent’s insurance until age 26, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be considering job options based on health benefits. Four years goes by fast. It’s ok if your current job doesn’t offer health benefits, but make sure that there’s room to move up in the company to a position that does offer them or that this job is a stepping stone to a position with health benefits. Talk with your human resources representative about the company’s employer-sponsored plan. Learn the different options, copayments, what’s covered and what’s not.

Do understand your rights under Obamacare

In addition to being allowed to stay under your parent’s health insurance until age 26, the Affordable Care Act, or “Obamacare”, requires that all insurance plans cover preventive services and stops insurance companies from dropping you when you are sick. These are just a few of the reforms and protections provided to patients. Another big one for young people to understand – you must obtain qualifying health insurance by January 1st, 2014. Otherwise, you will have to pay a fine if you are uninsured.

Do look into the Health Insurance Marketplace

If you no longer qualify for insurance under your parents and benefits aren’t provided through your job, look into purchasing it through the Health Insurance Marketplace. It opens October 1st and closes March 31, 2014. Insurance companies will compete to be your healthcare provider via a health insurance exchange pool, meaning lower premiums and better benefits. Competition always benefits the consumer so take advantage of it now.

Do take care of yourself

The bottom line is that health insurance and related health costs are cheaper for those who take care of themselves both physically and mentally. Exercise, eat healthy, and take care of your mental health. This will not only make you feel better, but it’s good for your bank account too.


Don't

Do not opt for no health insurance at all

According to researchers at Harvard University, health care costs contribute to half of all personal bankruptcies filed in the U.S. In addition, 18-to-29-year-olds make up about a third of the nation’s 47 million uninsured. While purchasing health insurance might seem expensive, trust me when I say that not having insurance is more expensive in the end. You might think you’re invincible, but accidents happen. One trip to the hospital can leave you bankrupt and in debt.

Do not assume it’s going to be expensive

Under the Affordable Care Act, health insurance companies will compete to be your provider through the Health Insurance Marketplace. This usually means lower rates for consumers as companies try to compete for your business. In addition, up to 82% of nearly 16 million uninsured young adults would qualify for federal subsidies or Medicaid under Obamacare.

Do not waste money on dental

While many employers offer health insurance, dental insurance is sometimes left out. If your employer offers it, take it. You never know when you might need it. However, if they don’t, skip it. The monthly premiums will add up to more than what bi-yearly cleanings will cost. With the onset of groupon and livingsocial coupon deals, you can even score discounted cleanings.

Do not miss a payment

Skipping a payment is bad news. Not only will it temporarily leave you without insurance, but it will likely cause your premium to go up. A lapse in insurance can and will make your premium higher the next time you apply for insurance. You also never know when you might make a trip to the emergency room and that one or two days of wiggle room can leave you with an enormous bill and most likely, in serious debt.

Do not forget about preventive care

You may think you’re invincible now, but you’re not. Now that Obamacare makes it illegal for insurers not to cover preventive care, there is no excuse not to take advantage of it. Go for regular physicals, pap-smears, colonoscopies, and mammograms. Its better to prevent an illness or injury from occurring rather than try to fix it later.


Summary
Jumping cartoon

Young, health Americans make up a large percentage of America’s uninsured. In fact, 16 million young adults are uninsured in the U.S. Under the Affordable Care Act, 82% of them will qualify for federal subsidies to reduce the cost of health insurance and many more can stay on their parent’s plan until age 26. There is no reason that affordable health insurance can’t be a reality for recent college graduates.


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Photo Credits: Commencement 2013 - Nazareth College, Rochester, NY by Flickr: Nazareth College; Check Man, Cross Man and Jump Man © ioannis kounadeas - Fotolia.com

Frank DarrasFounding Partner and Disability Lawyer

Frank N. Darras made a decision nearly a quarter century ago that would affect tens of thousands of Americans. Darras took the road less traveled to help the sick, disabled, and elderly mount a heroic fight against billion-dollar insurance compa...

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