There are several things college grads need to know about health insurance and I have listed them here.
1) If you were on your parent’s health insurance, you will lose your coverage within 30 – 90 days of graduation.
2) If you had a “student policy” through your college, you will lose that coverage within 30 days of graduation.
3) If you had a “student policy” through an insurance company, you will lose the coverage within 30 days of graduation; but, they will give you the option of applying for an individual health insurance policy with their company. The premiums will be higher than what you have been paying and the benefits may be different – usually better.
4) If you get a job with a company that offers health insurance as a benefit; there is normally a 30 – 90 day waiting period after you start work before you are eligible for the benefit. The insurance company has to accept you for an employer sponsored plan, they can not turn you down; but, they can delay coverage for pre-existing conditions.
5) If you apply for an insurance policy of your own, the insurance company does NOT have to accept you nor do they have to provide coverage for any medical condition you already have. (Some states do have a “state guarantee” program; but, the rates are very high and you have to be turned down by other companies to qualify.)
6) Some of the things which will disqualify your for an individual health insurance policy are: overweight, anxiety, depression, epilepsy, bi-polar, ADHD, diabetes, etc. These are some of the more common diagnosis that will prevent you from getting an individual insurance policy. If you have been diagnosed with these conditions, you will need a job with a company that has benefits for it’s employees in order to get health insurance.
7) Short term insurance policies. These are very inexpensive policies which only last 1 – 12 months. These are good protection for while you are looking for a job or are waiting for benefits to start; but, they do NOT cover health problems you already have.
8) If you have a job with health benefits and lose or quit the job: if you have worked for the company for 18 months or more you will qualify for COBRA benefits. If you do not qualify for COBRA: no job = no health insurance.
9) COBRA insurance only lasts for 18 months and you pay the full cost that the employer and you were paying for the coverage. That is normally more than you would pay with an individual policy; but, if you have health issues, it may be all you can get.
10) After COBRA runs out; you can look for “portability coverage”, which is guaranteed issue and will cover all of your pre-existing health problems. Not all insurance companies offer it and it is MORE expensive than COBRA because they KNOW no other company will insure you with an individual policy if you are looking for “portability coverage”.
11) When they are young, men pay less for health insurance than women; around age 50 that changes and men pay more than women. Young women have “reproductive” health issues that men do not have. After age 50, those issues go away for most women and men start getting seriously ill at a younger age than women do (heat attack, cancer, strokes, etc.).
12) The older you get the more your health insurance costs. The reason for this is that older people have an increased risk of acquiring a serious health problem than younger people do. Less risk, lower premiums. Higher risk, higher premiums.
13) Not all health insurance policies are the same. Check the details: deductibles, copays, prescription coverage, physicians network, pharmacy network, how frequently do they have rate increases, what is covered and what is not covered. If something is not covered do they have an option which will allow you to “buy” that coverage?
14) Smoking and tobacco use – most companies will charge 20% – 35% more for a person who uses tobacco.
15) Occupations – some companies will not insure some occupations which they consider hazardous to your health.
16) X-treme sports – are not covered even if the company insures you. Racing of any type, scuba, skydiving, flying your own plane, etc. Be sure you ask. Some will cover you and others won’t. It is better to know before an accident instead of after. Many people who engage in these activites join “associations” that provide insurance coverage JUST for those risks to their members.
These tips should give you plenty of facts for facing the challenge of getting health insurance of your own after you graduate.