Many recent college graduates face their first time purchasing health insurance on their own for the first time. Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, young adults may remain on their parents’ health plans until age 26 if they don’t already have employer-based coverage; otherwise they may qualify for Medicaid.
Vox has documented stories about people who have received shocking emergency room bills that can bankrupt an entire household. Here are some ways graduates can avoid such costs:
Stay on your parent’s insurance.
Under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), young adults can remain on their parents’ health plan until age 26 – this has lead to an increase in young adult health coverage of 5.5 million between 2010 and September 2015.
IF YOU ARE currently enrolled in your parent’s plan, it would be wise to discuss it with them and determine what options may be available to you. If they can continue offering health coverage at no additional cost to yourself in the long run. This could save money and time.
If you ever lose coverage through your parents, the Affordable Care Act offers an enrollment period beginning 60 days before and ending 60 days after that month in which coverage ends, during which you can select a plan from an exchange, including potentially subsidised ones – an invaluable option if their plan proves too costly or is unsatisfactory for you.
Buy a short-term plan.
Individuals looking for medical coverage while they wait for their new employer or Medicare or FEHBP coverage to start may turn to short-term health insurance plans, which provide limited protection that does not comply with ACA’s minimum essential benefits requirements.
Short-term policies are available through private market websites like eHealth and Agile Health Insurance, where premiums for various short-term plans in your area can be seen and whether the policy meets Affordable Care Act affordability rules can also be seen.
These plans typically offer lower monthly costs than ACA-compliant major medical plans; however, they often exclude or limit coverage for preexisting conditions as well as annual and lifetime dollar limits on coverage provided. Furthermore, medical underwriting may apply and people with certain health issues could potentially be rejected for coverage; furthermore these plans do not comply with preventive care requirements or maternity coverage of the ACA.
Obtain health coverage through a new employer.
New grads often seek jobs with health benefits as a priority, with large employers often providing extensive coverage and paying a portion of premiums themselves. If this option doesn’t materialize immediately, however, the Affordable Care Act makes obtaining health insurance simpler than ever for young adults.
Plans and issuers are generally required to provide adult dependent coverage up to age 26, even if they no longer reside with their parents or are no longer students. Furthermore, the Affordable Care Act prohibits lifetime or annual limits on insurance coverage and prevents insurers from excluding people with preexisting conditions from coverage.
As well as expanding dependent coverage, the Affordable Care Act expands Medicaid eligibility in the U.S. and creates state or multistate-based “exchanges,” where people can shop for individual plans; some exchanges are operated by federally run agencies while others by private organizations. Furthermore, all policies purchased must cover an array of comprehensive benefits, including preventive care services.
Apply for Medicaid.
New graduates who meet certain eligibility requirements, such as income or other parameters, can apply for Medicaid, which is a joint state and federal program that pays for health services for people who are financially limited and possess few resources and assets. Some states have expanded their Medicaid programs in order to cover more people.
For those who qualify, the Affordable Care Act offers premium assistance or cost-sharing reductions. Furthermore, this legislation requires insurance companies to cover all medically necessary health benefits without exclusion based on preexisting conditions or predispositions.
Individuals residing in states that have expanded their Medicaid program can take advantage of NY State of Health’s online marketplace to explore different plan options and make an informed decision on the one most suited to them. Enrollment assistants can assist people through this process; those not qualifying may contact their local social service department or an Facilitated Enroller instead; eligibility rules differ by state.