Whether a person is finishing up high school or about to receive their college diploma, graduating and moving on to the next chapter in life is an exciting time.
Many new graduates are facing decisions about health insurance for the first time, but in many cases, this very important issue gets pushed to the bottom of the to-do list.
"Each year for the past decade or so as students have been graduating from high school and college they've been receiving their diplomas but have also been joining the rank of the uninsured," said Ellen Laden, director of public relations at UnitedHealthcare's Golden Rule Insurance Company.
In fact, Laden said people in the 18-to-34 age group are among the fastest growing group of uninsured and have been for some time.
She said this is the case for many reasons, most of which can be traced back to a poor economy.
She said it is taking many young people a long time to find a job, thereby delaying when they are able to obtain health insurance through an employer. Additionally, she said it may not be possible for a graduate to get health insurance through a parent because their parent may be without health insurance due to losing their job.
Tips for young adults making decisions about health insurance:
If eligible, first consider staying on your parents' plan.
Figure out whether it would cost less to buy your own health insurance.
Understand the plan that you are buying, what it covers and what it doesn't.
Look into high deductible plans.
Consider short term health insurance plans.
Make sure you can drop your coverage without penalty if you find a job with health benefits.
Source: Golden Rule Insurance Company.
On the Web
Visit www.goldenrule.com and www.insurance.ohio.gov for information about health insurance options for young adults.
Beverly resident Megan Silvus, 21, who will graduate from Washington State Community College's registered nursing program June 11, already knows where her health insurance will come from.
"Currently I am being covered by my parents but I just accepted a position (Tuesday) as an RN at St. Joseph's Hospital," she said. "It's a full-time position so I will be getting full-time benefits so I'll be getting health insurance there."
Silvus noted that if she hadn't secured a job, she planned to stay on her parents' insurance.
Laden said the first thing a graduate should do is consider staying on their parents' plan. She pointed out that the new health reform law allows dependents to stay on their parents' health plan until age 26, and in the state of Ohio, the maximum age is 28 in some instances.
"But it's important always, even if they choose to do that, to compare the premium cost of staying on their parents' plan with what the cost would be if they bought their own plan," Laden said. "For most healthy graduates, they can find a quality health plan for under $100 a month."
She pointed out that if a person is buying their own health insurance, they should make sure they're doing business with a reputable company.
"You can look for the A.M. Best Rating which indicates whether a company is financially stable," Laden said.
Laden added that a person should understand the plan they're buying, what it covers and what it doesn't. She said a person should also make sure the health care providers he or she wants to go to are in an insurance company's network.
According to her, there are two kinds of plans that may be "particularly attractive" to young adults - high deductible and short term.
"The higher the deductible, the lower the premium costs," Laden said. "A high deductible plan can start at $500 - it doesn't mean it has to be $10,000 or $15,000."
Laden said short term health insurance plans are a good option because they usually cost less than high deductible plans and the application process is fast and easy.
"Make sure you find a plan you can drop at any time without penalty to you," she added.
Laden said there are lots of options for young people trying to obtain health insurance for themselves and it is important that they decide on one of them as soon after graduating as possible.
"The most important thing of all is no one can afford to be without health insurance coverage today," she said. "Accident and injury and illness can happen to anyone at any age - it's really the time a young adult can least afford big medical bills that can put them in bankruptcy before they start their career."