Although many people aged 18 to 25 can stay on their parents’ health insurance plan, if you live in a different state than your parents, doing so may not be an option. Worse, depending on your situation your parent’s plan may be way more expensive than what you could find elsewhere.
As part of the Affordable Care Act, passed in 2010, adult children under the age of 26 can be covered by a parent’s health plan. For those parents with subsidized employer care, or a subsidized plan through healthcare.gov, the monthly premium cost can be much lower than other options. However, plans and networks aren’t uniform across the country so if you move out of the area your parents live, you will have to deal with out-of-network issues. In fact, if your parent’s plan is an HMO, you may have no network at all..
So, if your parents health insurance plan isn’t an option, where should you turn?
You may think “I am healthy and I never need to see a doctor why do I need health insurance.” It’s not uncommon for younger people to feel invincible. BUT, what if you break an arm or get extremely sick? The bills associated with even minor medical emergencies can rack up quickly, and without even the most basic insurance coverage, you could see 5 and 6 digit bills coming from the hospital. We at HealthPocket would strongly discourage going without health insurance altogether. Don’t start worrying yet though, you still have options for health insurance coverage that won’t break the bank.
Many colleges and universities offer healthcare plans for their students, including health insurance for 18-year-old freshmen as soon as they begin classes. If you’re working towards your degree, check your school’s website or contact student health services to find out the details of their options.
These programs are often fairly inexpensive and may even include vision and dental coverage. They can sometimes be discounted if you receive financial aid from your school.
If you have an employer that offers a health insurance benefit, you can enroll at any age, even if you’re still eligible for your family’s insurance. Some employers offer multiple options with varying levels of coverage, which also means different price ranges. You can choose the plan that works best for you. If you opt out of employer-sponsored coverage when you first start your job, you’ll have to wait until the next open enrollment period to sign up for a plan. The only exception to open enrollment is if u ne you qualify for a special enrollment. Exception. These exceptions usually involve major life events like moving out of state.
Enroll During Open Enrollment: Any young person can enroll in a healthcare plan on sites like healthcare.gov. Once again, you’ll have to sign up during the Open Enrollment Period which runs from November 1 – December 15 each year. If you do opt to purchase an Obamacare plan, you may qualify for a subsidy depending on your household income. This subsidy is officially known as premium tax credits and can drastically decrease your monthly premium costs.. To qualify for ACA subsidies, your minimum household income must be at least 100 percent of the poverty level, and cannot exceed 400 percent of the poverty level.
Depending on your income and state requirements, another option `for coverage may be Medicaid. Medicaid is a government funded healthcare program designed to provide healthcare for low income individuals. Individual states also set their own requirements for Medicaid eligibility, but income is always a factor. Like with Obamacare subsidies, your income is typically used as a determinant for eligibility. Only a handful of states have work requirements to get Medicaid, and even those states do not apply those requirements right away.
If you’re comparing plans and feel that all of the monthly premiums are more than you want to or can afford,y but you do want to protect yourself in case of an emergency, then catastrophic health insurance may be the way to go. This Obamacare plan type isn’t great at paying for regular doctor visits but it will protect you from major hospital bills.
Catastrophic plans are exclusively for young people under the age of 30 and features lower monthly costs than typical health insurance plans. Catastrophic insurance always comes with a high deductible, meaning you’ll have to pay a pretty high amount on your own before any coverage kicks in. Most people with catastrophic policies never reach their full deductible, so you pay all of your medical expenses for the year out-of-pocket. Although catastrophic plans are typically seen as cheap health insurance for young adults, that means they’re actually not a good idea for someone with a chronic condition that requires regular treatments or frequent visits to a specialist. If you’re generally healthy, catastrophic insurance will still save you money over the course of the year since your monthly payment is lower than standard plans. But be sure to have saved for the unexpected-- if you do suffer an accident or illness, you will be facing a high deductible before insurance will kick in.
Short term health insurance plans are an option that, like catastrophic plans, often feature much lower monthly premiums. Unlike catastrophic plans, deductibles and out of pocket maximums are generally comparable to those you see with an Obamacare plan. However, Short term health plans can exclude those with pre-existing conditions and often exclude benefits like mental health services and pregnancy..
If you’re ever in a situation without health insurance, look into short term health insurance. The application is relatively simple; there are no enrollment black out dates, and In some cases, you can be insured within a day of application approval. You’ll have access to major medical type benefits like emergency room, hospital stays, labs, x-rays and your choice of doctors.
Short term health plans are not like Obamacare plans. The scope of your benefits will not be as broad because short term health insurance isn’t required to ensure your pre-existing conditions. And whereas you can keep your Obamacare plan for a full year, how long you can keep your short term plan depends on where you live. Some states, like Oregon, limit coverage to less than three months. Other states will permit coverage for up to 12 months and allow you to renew your plan for up to 36. sWith all the options available to you, shopping for health insurance doesn’t need to be scary, or even expensive.
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