Photo (cc) by Zach Alexander
Just graduating from high school or college and don’t have health insurance? You’re not alone. Almost one-third of Americans under 26 lack health insurance, the largest group in the United States, Uncle Sam estimates.
But here’s some good news: Things may be looking up. Check out the following news story, then get additional specific advice on the other side.
Now, here’s a little more specific advice on how to get health insurance:
- Stay on your parents’ policy. The federal government’s health care reform law requires insurance companies to allow parents to keep their children on their policies up to age 26, effective Sept. 23. Some companies are already insuring young people. For the first time you won’t have to be enrolled in school to stay on the policy once you hit 18. There are a few important exceptions: If your workplace offers insurance, you have to take that policy, even if it’s not as good. If your parents are on Medicare you are out of luck. Finally, you have to be extra nice to mom and dad: They are not required to add their adult children to their policies. They must want to – and submit paperwork to their insurer.
- Get a job with a company that provides coverage. Large companies are the most likely to offer health care coverage to employees. But some small companies that have mostly young employees also offer insurance, in some cases even for part-time employees.
- Buy individual insurance. If you’re healthy, you may be able to get individual health insurance for a little as $25 a month. You can do an insurance search right here at Money Talks on our insurance page. Websites such as Vimo.com or ehealthinsurance also provide links to policies from major companies, such as Aetna or Blue Cross Blue Shield. You can also buy individual policies from insurance brokers. Young people typically have the cheapest rates because they tend to be healthier and have fewer chronic illnesses.
- Go back to school. At many schools, you don’t have to be a full-time student to get access to the campus health clinic and student insurance policies. You don’t have to be young, either. In April the American College Health Association reported that it was working to preserve quality health care and coverage for students. You can check out our previous story on shortcoming in some student health plans.
- See if you qualify for Medicaid or state programs for low-income residents. If you are unemployed or in a low-paying job you may qualify for Medicaid. Each state has its own qualifications.
- Visit a community health clinic. These clinics, which offer free or low-cost care to low-income uninsured residents, have been expanding and their numbers are expected to double nationwide under health-care reform. You can find a clinic in your area on this list.
If you’re wondering when other parts of the health insurance reform will take effect, read our story on the timetable.