Are you a recent college graduate who has yet to land a full-time job, or is otherwise unable to obtain health insurance through an employer? Fortunately, you are not necessarily doomed to forgoing insurance for the next seven months.
Grads in this position can obtain health insurance for the remainder of 2017 through as many as three other routes, according to a recent HealthCare.gov blog post. (That website is the home of the federal health insurance marketplace created by the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.) But the key to all three routes is first qualifying for what’s known as a “special enrollment period.”
Getting around open enrollment
For most folks, it’s too late to obtain a 2017 health insurance policy by going to the federal Obamacare marketplace, also called an exchange. The 2017 open enrollment period ended Jan. 31.
But people who are eligible for a special enrollment period can buy health insurance through the marketplace even after open enrollment has ended. According to HealthCare.gov, recent college grads qualify for a special enrollment period if:
- They are moving to or from the place they attended school.
- They lose other health insurance, such if their student health plan has run out or they’re dropped off a parent’s plan.
- They experience other life events such as having a baby or getting married.
If you’re unsure whether you qualify for a special enrollment period, visit the HealthCare.gov webpage “See if you can still get 2017 health coverage.”
HealthCare.gov says college grads who qualify for a special enrollment period have the following avenues for obtaining health insurance for the rest of 2017:
- Get added to a parent’s health insurance plan. This is an option for grads until they reach age 26. They can be added to a parent’s job-based plan or to a plan purchased on the marketplace. They also can be added at the time a parent purchases a new marketplace plan.
- Buy a plan on the marketplace themselves. This option may not be a cheap one for grads and their financial supporters. But forgoing insurance can be risky and costly, too, as we explain in “10 Debt Management Tips for New College Grads.”
- Qualify for Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). These discounted insurance products might be an option for grads who aren’t making much money. To find out if you qualify, visit HealthCare.gov’s “See if your income falls in the range to save” page.
For more health insurance shopping tips, check out:
- “10 Common Mistakes to Avoid When Buying Health Insurance“
- “10 Tips to Maximize Your High-Deductible Health Plan“
- “16 Ways to Beat the High Cost of Medical Care“
Do you have any health insurance tips for the class of 2017? Share them below or on our Facebook page.