Health Insurance For New Graduates: What to Know About Health Insurance After College

With new healthcare law taking effect, it is no wonder many college students, new graduates and their families are confused about their health insurance coverage options. Luckily, new grads have many options, depending on what they choose to do after graduation. There are a variety of paths new graduates can take after college; some health insurance plans may be better suited to your path than others.

What is your family's situation? By determining your post-grad plans, you'll be closer to choosing the health insurance that is best suited to your needs:

Job

With a new job, new grads may find that they have benefits from their employer that include health insurance. This is a good option, but be sure to check and see if you can remain on your parent's plan and, if so, how the rates and coverages of these two plans compare. Your parent's plan may end up being the cheaper option, but do your research to make sure.

If you will be using your employer's health insurance, make sure you know when the coverage will start and if you'll experience any interruption in health insurance. Many employer plans take a month or two after your start date to kick in, which could lead to a gap in coverage if your plan ends upon graduation. Short-Term Medical Insurance is an option for ensuring you'll be protected during that gap. Though this coverage is not as comprehensive as an individual or family plan, it can help provide financial protection in the event of a sudden illness or injury for a temporary period.

Job-Hunting

If you're looking for a job, you have several options. First, explore if your parent's plan is one you can join. If not, how long do you think you'll be job hunting? If for a few months, consider Short-Term Medical coverage to hold you over until you can join an employer plan. This coverage typically lasts 5-11 months and can provide you temporary accident and sickness coverage until you can join a permanent plan.

If you think you'll be job-hunting for a while, or the job you're searching for won't have benefits that include health insurance, consider a permanent health insurance plan. If your coverage at school has just ended, then you qualify for enrollment in the healthcare Marketplace and you can search for a plan that fits your needs and budget.

Grad School

Many schools offer students a student health insurance option, so make sure to check and see if one is available to you through your school. If you cannot join your parent's plan, this will likely be your best option, but be sure to compare the plans. Like above, if neither of these are an option and your coverage has recently expired, consider an individual plan from the Marketplace.

If you'll experience a gap in coverage after graduation but before joining a permanent plan, be sure to consider Short-Term Medical for temporary coverage during that time, just in case.

Traveling

If you've decided to take a year to travel the world, your health insurance needs will be a bit more complex. Consider joining your parent's plan or enrolling in an individual plan through the Marketplace if you have a plan that has just ended. But with both of these options, be sure to check if you'll have coverage overseas or whether you'll need supplemental coverage while you travel. An insurance agent can help you determine what kind of supplemental coverage you'll need, so be sure to consult one if available plans won't cover you internationally.

I'm not sure...

If you're not sure where life will lead you next, you still have options! Again, staying on your parent's plan if you can is probably your best bet. If not, if you've recently lost coverage due to losing your student health plan, that counts as a qualifying event and you can enroll in coverage through the Marketplace set up through the Affordable Care Act.

Congratulations on your graduation! As you are just starting out, navigating your new life after college can be daunting and difficult. Health insurance is one more thing to worry about and cross off your to-do list, but it can be very important to your financial and physical health. Even if you seem young and healthy, health insurance can help provide valuable financial protection while you are just beginning this new chapter. Luckily, new graduates have many health insurance options. If you have questions, be sure to consult an insurance agent for more information.