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Health Insurance Options for Young Adults

How Student Health Insurance Plans Differ, from School to Employer Health Plans as well as Private Health Plans?

During your first years as an adult, health insurance may seem complicated and confusing. There are so many options for getting coverage, but where do you start? If you are like many students and young adults, you may be confused about how much health insurance premiums should cost you each month, where the best place to get insurance is, and how much coverage you need altogether. Fortunately, there are multiple sources of obtaining quality benefits, and with the passage of The Affordable Care Act, it has never been easier for young adults to get health insurance than it is right now.

Stay on Your Parent's Health Insurance Policy as a Dependent

In 2010, President Obama and Congress approved measures that made it possible for young adults to remain on a parent's health insurance policy as a dependent until age 26. All adult children under age 26 qualify. That means you can enroll on your parent's health plan even if you are married or live in a different state than your parents.

The only exception is for adult children who have access to an employer's health insurance plan through work. Until January 2014, insurers can deny you coverage as an adult dependent if you qualify for employer health coverage. If you do enroll on your parent's health plan, however, only you can qualify for coverage. Any dependents you may have, such as a spouse or children, will not be eligible for coverage.

School Health Plans

If you are attending college at a university or college, find out if your campus has student health insurance options. Most universities offer some type of health insurance coverage designed specifically for the needs of college students. Because young adults are statistically healthy individuals, student health coverage is usually much more affordable than purchasing a policy on the private market. Also, many schools have campus health centers that are free or almost free to students covered by the university health plan.

Employer Health Plans

Employer health coverage is a benefit that is becoming increasingly difficult to find. However, if your employer offers company health coverage, consider enrolling yourself, as well as your spouse or any children you may have, in the plan. When an employer offers group coverage, you will usually have limited options for what type of health plan you want, but you benefit because your employer pays a portion of your health insurance premiums each month.

Also, with employer coverage, you and your young family are covered under the laws of HIPAA, which prevent your employer's insurer from denying you and your dependents coverage based on a pre-existing health condition. Many young adults also appreciate that employer health plans always have maternity coverage – a feature that is difficult to find in many private health insurance markets.

Private Health Plans

If you cannot enroll in a parent's health plan, you are not in school and you do not have access to an employer health plan, consider purchasing private health insurance. Although this is the more costly option, it is also the only choice that allows you to carefully select which health insurance option is right for you.

For example, if you are a healthy, single college graduate with no children, you may benefit from selecting a high deductible health plan. These types of plans require more money from you out-of-pocket if you need to file a claim, but feature much more affordable monthly premiums.

Although you may be responsible for paying for a few sick visits and prescriptions with high deductible health plans, the money you save on premiums will likely make up for your costs. Also, because of The Affordable Care Act, all new health insurance plans – including those with limited benefits – must provide preventive health care at zero out-of-pocket expense to the policy-holder. That means you can visit your doctor for your annual check-up free of charge.

Of course, a high deductible health plan may not be right for you – especially if you have a health condition or if you can afford a lower deductible plan each month. Before selecting a health insurance plan, determine how much coverage you need and how much you can afford. Then, shop and compare rates until you find the plan that works best for you.

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