Young and Uninsured? Here Are Some Options

health insurance options

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  • Health insurance is a tricky subject, no matter your age.

    However, it can be particularly stressful for young people.

    Until the age of 26, most young adults qualify as dependents on their parent’s health insurance plans.

    However, on the day of their 26th birthday, they’re automatically dropped and left to find insurance for themselves—something many of them have never considered before that day.

    There are also several young adults who aren’t able to stay on their parent’s insurance for a myriad of reasons. Luckily for anyone in these situations, there are other low-cost and highly-effective health insurance options for young adults.

    Here are the top four options.

    1. School Health Insurance

    Many colleges and universities offer health insurance plans for their students, and, according to the American College Health Association, 10 percent of college students decide to pursue this option. Enrolling in the university’s plan provides students with a cost-effective policy that will cover them throughout their college years.

    If you’re considering enrolling in your university’s insurance plan, make sure to do your research. Since each college insurance plan varies in cost and coverage, you’ll want to make sure you’re receiving the best bang for your buck.

    See how much you’re expected to pay in premiums, co-pays, deductibles and out-of-pocket expenses. Additionally, find out when and where you’ll be expected to pay for the plan. Some universities bundle their insurance plans within tuition, while others request separate payments.

    You’ll also want to research what providers are covered within your university’s plan. These providers will usually be local doctors and specialists, many of whom are already associated with the university. For example, if your university already has a medical school attached, its providers are most likely included in your plan.

    Finally, when considering joining your university’s insurance plan, you should also consider a few potential drawbacks. For example, will the insurance plan cover you only during the academic year? If so, will they offer short-term alternatives for the uncovered months?

    Additionally, are you ready to take control of your own medical history, insurance benefits and potential bills? If you’ve never dealt with any of these before, you should spend some time familiarizing yourself with your new insurance policy before medical needs arise.

    2. Medicaid

    Medicaid is a federal program that helps subsidize medical bills for those with limited income. The program is state-run, so you should check with your state’s requirements to see if you are eligible for coverage. Currently, Medicaid provides coverage for over 74 million low-income or disabled individuals, making it the largest funder of health-related services.

    In order to qualify for coverage, you will need to meet your state’s designated income threshold. Once you qualify, you could receive full coverage for multiple services—some of which may not be covered by standard insurance policies. The cost for these services will be offset by the state and federal governments, allowing you to receive care for little to no cost.

    These plans are ideal for those who cannot be claimed as anyone’s dependent and are currently working a low-income job or attending college on their own dime.

    3. Temporary Insurance Plans

    Temporary or short-term health insurance is ideal for those needing coverage for an abbreviated time period. These plans cover any unexpected illnesses or accidents for a specified term—usually less than 365 days. There are several reasons someone might need to enroll in short-term health insurance.

    • You missed enrollment for insurance through your university or job
    • You are unable to enroll in Obamacare or Affordable Care Act (ACA)
    • You qualify for Medicaid, but need a policy while you wait for coverage to begin
    • You recently graduated or just turned 26 and are coming off your parent’s insurance
    • You are waiting for insurance benefits to begin at your new job

    Temporary insurance plans usually cost less than a standard policy and still offer broad coverage, mostly allowing you to visit the provider of your choice. These plans also have an open and rolling enrollment period, meaning you are free to apply at any time.Additionally, since you are charged on a month-to-month basis, you can cancel your plan at any time.

    Please note: short-term insurance does not have to abide by ACA rules, meaning you could be denied coverage for any pre-existing conditions like pregnancy, cancer, diabetes or HIV. Before enrolling in temporary health insurance, make sure their coverage aligns with your healthcare needs.

    4. Employer Health Insurance

    Most employers offer their employees the opportunity to join their corporation or business’s insurance policy for a significantly lower per-month cost. Employer-offered health insurance is so common that it accounts for more than half of all health insurance plans in the United States. These plans offer extensive coverage for a fraction of the cost.

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    However, these policies are becoming less popular as the freelance workforce grows. Currently, there are over 57 million Americans working as freelancers, 51 percent of whom would never even consider taking a traditional office job. Since freelancers are their own independent contractors, they are responsible for providing their own health insurance.

    Deciding which health insurance policy to pursue is an entirely personal choice based on your price point and coverage needs. There are a variety of policy options that can provide for your pre-existing conditions at a cost that is suitable for your needs.

    Just remember, you will likely change insurance providers several times throughout your young adult life, as you grow from dependent to student and through several different jobs. By being educated about your options, you will be able to find consistent policies that meet all your healthcare needs.

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