By Christopher Schonberger
Here's a common recent grad dilemma: you know that health insurance is theoretically important, but you don't have a job yet or you're about to take a little time off before switching to a new one. Yes, you could try throwing away all sharp objects and locking yourself away in a room, but
we know how well that worked out in Final Destination. Taking "a few months off from health insurance" while continuing to live in a world where accidents and sudden illness can happen to anyone is like saying you'll take a break from the pill but continue to have unprotected sex—it's not smart, and the ramifications can be unwelcome and prohibitively expensive. Thankfully, short-term health insurance can help you cover your hide until a more sustainable solution becomes available.
Before diving in to this option, make sure you review our guide to Understanding Health Insurance and brush up on the concept of deductibles (i.e., the predetermined amount that you have to spend on medical services in a given year before the insurance company kicks in and starts paying). Within the context of health insurance as a whole, you can basically think of the short-term option as a low-cost, high-deductible plan that covers you up to a year. It's perfect for the recent grad who can't yet afford a long-term plan, but who recognizes that insurance is all about risk mitigation and wants to protect themselves in the event of a medical catastrophe. However, as with all matters relating to insurance, there are some subtleties worth noting. Read on if you think short-term health insurance might be the right choice for you.
What Is Short-Term Health Insurance?
Ok, let's back up really quickly. Short-term health insurance is just what it says it is—a type of health care coverage that’s available for short time frames, most commonly 30 days to a year (often you can renew your policy up to a year, but then you’ll have to find a new provider). In addition to the time frame, there are two other keys aspects of short-term health insurance that you don’t get from the name: 1) it’s more affordable than standard coverage, and 2) it’s less comprehensive. In other words, it’s a “tide-yourself-over” option rather than a long-term one. As such, it can work out very well for young, healthy recent grads who are job-hunting, between jobs, or currently working in a job that doesn’t provide insurance benefits. (Even if you did land a job that provides health insurance, it can often take a while for your benefits to kick in. Speak with your employer and consider short-term health insurance if you need interim coverage.)
As a general rule, short-term health insurance works best for people whose main goal is to avoid the crippling costs associated with a major medical emergency. Deductibles tend to be high ($1,000 and up—lower ones will result in higher monthly costs), and pre-existing conditions and preventative care are not co...
By Theodore Bressman
Many recent grads who freelance, work for start-ups, or spend their days playing backgammon and other games of leisure do not have health insurance. In fact, a quarter of all Americans in their 20s live without medical insurance of any kind. Hospitals don't
take bill collection lightly and even a broken arm can land you fifteen grand in the hole.
Think about it this way: Walking around without health insurance is a lot like signing up for a recreational Russian Roulette league. Even if nothing happens the first few weeks, sooner or later someone’s gonna get a bullet straight through the temple. Though the health insurance industry is completely abusive and falling to pieces, that doesn’t mean that it’s impossible to find a reasonably good deal that can keep you healthy, wealthy, and maybe even wise. Remember that even if you're relatively fit a catastrophe could happen and you need to be covered; if you have a lot of health issues or need frequent prescriptions, you may want to look for wider coverage.
Keep It in the Family
Many states allow children to remain on their parents’ plan until surprisingly old ages. The great state of New Jersey, for example, allows residents to ride their parental coattails until the age of 30! Check out state specific information to see if you can stay afloat through your twenties. The Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act, better known as the semi-poisonous COBRA, gives grads no longer covered by their parents’ plans the option to extend coverage for 18 months. There is one major caveat: extending the plan means paying the amount the parent’s employer pays in addition to some administrative costs. The average cost for single coverage is estimated to be about $350 a month. Seems a bit high, but this might be the best option for people who have recently had serious illnesses or recurring medical problems, both of which may hike up initiation fees in certain states.
Join the Union
Look into joining the Freelancers Union. Why? Firstly, being part of a union is pretty cool. Secondly, the Freelancers Union offers a specialized network for freelancing professionals. Lastly, and most importantly, the union provides health insurance at pretty low rates. The cheapest deal in the union costs about $130/month with a $10,000 deductible. What does that mean? Basically, you pay discounted rates out-of-pocket for all medical expenses up to $10,000, and then afterwards all expenses are covered. So everything is covered in worst case scenarios without the possibility of long term debt.
Short Term Insurance
Short term insurance is a pretty nice option for individuals without a history of medical issues. “Emergency” coverage ranges from $40 to $70 per month for a generally healthy 25 year old. If necessary, check-ups and physicals come straight from the pocket, but they cost only a few hundred dollars and are worth the low monthly premium. ...
By David Pekema
Healthcare lingo is complicated. A simple discussion about managed care (one of my favorite pick-up topics) can quickly sound like an eighth-grader’s text messaging free-for-all. Negotiating this slew of acronyms can be infuriating, but not knowing
how your plan works can cause serious confusion and cost you a significant amount of money.
There was a time when if you had a problem, you went to a doctor and your mom paid the bill while you fired up the old-school Pacman machine in the lobby. Now you have to select a PCP from a list provided by an HMO. Confused? Me too. But now that you’re on your own and potentially off your parents' plans, you need to figure out one that best fits your needs. Read on for clarification and advice in navigating the world of managed care.
The Big Picture
All health insurance works basically as follows: In exchange for a monthly premium, you can visit doctors or specialists when issues arise, and your insurance companies will pay for what they think it should cost. Most of the time, there isn’t much of a disparity between the doctor’s billing and what the insurance company considers appropriate, but keep in mind that they basically reserve the right to pay (or not as the case may be) for whatever part of the bill they want. Either way, if you get hit by a car, fracture fifty bones, and need facial reconstructive surgery, those pesky thousands in premiums just saved you somewhere around a million bucks.
To slightly complicate matters, most insurance plans require a deductible, a co-pay, or both. A deductible is the predetermined amount that you have to spend on medical services in a given year before the insurance company starts ponying up. Sensibly, the lower the deductible, the higher the price of the plan, because your insurance is ostensibly agreeing pick up a larger portion of the bill.
So how do you choose? Think about it this way: if you are a tri-sport athlete with no history of health problems whatsoever and only plan to see the doctor for a yearly checkup or if you get mangled in the aforementioned car crash, you will probably go for a cheaper plan with a higher deductible (say $15,000) and suck up the cost of the visit. However, if you are a tri-sport athlete with a history of knee, ankle, foot, and heart problems and a penchant for hypochondria, you will probably want to pay a higher monthly premium for a low deductible so you can visit doctors free of charge to your heart's content.
Well…almost free. And that’s where the co-pay comes in. Basically, health insurance companies hate giving away anything for free and make you pay a small amount (between $5-$20) for seeing a doctor after you’ve already gone over your deductible. Not so complicated, right?
Oh yeah, one more thing. Some insurance companies also cap the amount of out-of-pocket expenses you will have to pay ("yay," say hypochondriacs) but also put a maximum on the amount they will...
Alaska State Mandated Health Insurance Coverage
Medical insurance benefits that insurers must provide include: acupuncturist , alcohol/drug treatment , breast reconstruction , cervical cancer/HPV screening , chiropractor , colorectal cancer screening , dentist , dependent coverage (including newborns, adopted children, dependent students, dependent adults, grandchildren) , diabetes (self-management and supplies) , emergency room service , mammography , maternity minimum stay , mental health , naturopath , newborn hearing screening , nurse midwife , nurse practitioner , occupational therapist , optometrist , osteopath (D.O.) , physical therapist , physician assistant , PKU/metabolic disorder , prostate cancer screening , psychologist , social worker , well child care