You’re getting ready to graduate college. Up until this point you’ve either been on your parent’s health insurance plan, thankfully extended by the Affordable Care Act, or you’ve had some type of plan purchased directly through your university. If you are on a family plan, you’ll likely remain insurance throughout the end of the year (but you should check on this). If you are in the latter group, your health insurance will likely end as soon as your educational journey ends. This leaves you in an uncomfortable place – a place where you have no health insurance.
Review What You Have
Don’t panic. Your first step is to review what you have and how it relates to the most recent changes in healthcare law. Previously, students who were between the ages of 18 and 24 were able to stay on a parent’s insurance policy as long as they were full-time students. In September of 2010, the ACA changed the law to allow children to stay on a parent’s healthcare plan until the age of 26, regardless of their status as a student.
What does this mean if you’re on a parent’s policy? It means you can stay on that policy until you turn 26, even after you have graduated. Though you might want to talk to your parents about making a contribution towards the cost.
If you are on a school-sponsored plan, you’ll need to consider other options. A lot of school sponsored plans do not cover your medical needs if you leave campus and your benefits might change if you drop from full-time to part-time enrollment.
What Other Options are Available?
While you’re a student, you can also look at student health insurance plans from independent insurance agents or individual health insurance plans. The benefit of a student health insurance plan is that it should follow you if you take classes in another state. The drawback is that you may pay a higher premium and you may be asked to pay in full at the beginning of the year.
You may just find that an individual health policy is ideal,and this is where you’d have to go after college if you are too old to stay on a parent plan. You can get quotes for those through the health insurance marketplace online or through an agent designated to help you navigate the marketplace. You’ll still have to worry about traveling to other states, like when you’re home on vacation instead of where you live at school, so it’s worth talking to an insurance adviser about finding a policy that meets your needs until you graduate – and asking what to do after you graduate to ensure you don’t lose benefits.
Health insurance can be incredibly confusing and is even more so now that there are so many options to consider. There are plenty of trained professionals who can help guide you, though, so don’t be afraid to ask for help.