Students who were insured through their college’s student health plan will lose that protection when they graduate, or at least soon after the festivities end. And while you now have several good options to choose from, don’t dawdle: If you want to get back on your family’s employer-provided plan, you only have 30 days to do it.
That’s because you can enroll in those plans only during the open enrollment period (which is usually in the fall) or if you experience a change in circumstances, such as a job loss, a divorce, or, you guessed it, college graduation, said Karen Pollitz, a senior fellow at the Kaiser Family Foundation, a non-profit organization focusing on national health issues.
“If you know your coverage is going to end in May, it would be good to have something lined up for June 1st,” she said. “It’s never good to have a break in coverage.” And if you go without insurance for too long, you can get slapped with a fine. Welcome to adulthood.
The best option: Join your parents' plan, if you can
The most affordable option—and the one that usually offers the best coverage—is to sign up under your parents’ employer-provided plan, if they have one. You don’t need to live at home to be included in your parents’ plan, or even be claimed as a dependent on their tax returns. As long as you’re under 26, you qualify for coverage, even if you’re pregnant or married. (Sorry, though. your spouse can’t join.) You can also join a family plan if your parents bought one through a state or federal marketplace, and then you have a little more flexibility – 60 days since losing coverage—to enroll, Pollitz said.
[Read more about how to get health coverage under the Affordable Care Act and Medicaid. And use our Health Law Helper to see options are available to you.]
If you are over 26, your parents don’t have a family health insurance plan, or you don’t want to join their plan for some reason, there are other options:
Get it from your employer
If you’re lucky enough to be starting a new job that offers insurance, and you’re younger than 26, compare your employer’s coverage with your parents’ policy. Consider more than just the premium: What are the out-of-pocket costs, deductibles, and co-pays for each plan? How good is coverage for drugs or other services, such as physical therapy? Do you have coverage for out-of-network providers? Think about access to doctors and hospitals, too. If your parents live on the East coast and you’re in the Midwest, for example, you may not be able to use their network of providers. If you do opt for your employer’s plan, make sure your parents cancel you from theirs. Double coverage can be problematic, because the two plans may argue over who’s responsible for the costs. “Pick the one that makes most sense to you, that is the least expensive, but provides the most coverage,” Pollitz said.
Enroll in Medicaid
If you are unemployed or earn less than $15,586 a year, you may be eligible for Medicaid. You can apply for the government health plan at any time. Thirty states have expanded their Medicaid programs and others are considering expansion. Your eligibility is determined by your own income, not your parents’ income. Get more information about Medicaid here.
Enroll in a marketplace plan
If you aren’t eligible for Medicaid, you can buy health insurance on the marketplace exchanges and, if your income is low, you may qualify for a subsidy. Fourteen states run their own marketplace exchanges and others rely on federally- supported or facilitated marketplaces or partnerships, but you can buy insurance and qualify for subsidies no matter where you live, at least for now.
These are available through the marketplace exchanges, but be leery. If you’re under 30 and have a “hardship exemption”—there are 14 circumstances that qualify young adults for this exemption, including bankruptcy, homelessness and being a victim of domestic violence—you can buy one of these bare-bones health plans on the marketplace. The plans have very high deductibles and out-of-pocket costs but cover some primary care visits and preventive services. But experts like Pollitz advise against these plans, which generally only kick in when there is a dire need like a hospitalization. After all, even young healthy adults need birth control (covered under today’s plans) and primary care, and may have accidents or face other unexpected medical expenses. “Young people tend to think ‘I never go to the doctor, nothing ever happens to me.’ But you don’t want to have just graduated and be working to pay off student loans and end up with $10,000 in medical bills too,” Pollitz said.
Sign up for COBRA
After your 26th birthday, you can keep your family’s plan for up to three years under a law called COBRA, but you will bear the full cost of the plan (and it can get pretty pricey).
Article Source: Yahoo! Finance
For more information about health insurance options, call John Caris at 707-935-6294 x103 or visit www.HealthSonoma.com