Graduates and health insurance

July 1, 2009 8:56:04 PM PDT
Recent college graduates have more to worry about than a bleak job market. Many are also at risk of losing their health insurance because they're no longer eligible under their student's plan or their parent's plan. But there are a number of ways young people can maintain coverage.

The unemployment rate for young people ages 20 to 27 is about 15-percent right now. That's up 9-percent from last year.

But just because you haven't landed your dream job yet doesn't mean you have to be without health coverage.

Pina Mazzumuto graduated in May from Rutgers Camden and is on the hunt for her first job in marketing.

"I had health insurance through Rutgers University and through my parents, which will end in September so I'm hoping I find a job before that," Mazzumuto said.

But if she doesn't, she still has options to maintain coverage.

"There are a number of association plans out there, the Builder's Association, the Bar Association for attorneys, there are associations for charities," Robert Petcove of Advanced Benefit Advisors said.

A college grad like Pina can also take some online classes to maintain coverage.

"They must take a minimum of four classes at 3 credit hours or more per semester which is 12 credit hours or more and based on that, they'd qualify for the student coverages," Petcove said.

Insurance expert Robert Petcove says if that isn't feasible, consider this: A growing number of insurance companies are offering affordable, low-cost individual policies you can get on your own

"You do have to be careful about the limitations and exclusions in these coverages," Petcove said.

Mini Medical plans or mini-meds are further scaled down forms of insurance coverage, but they usually do not cover catastrophic situations like cancer treatment so they're reasonable alternatives generally only for young, healthy people.

"They will cover $5,000 for a particular ailment in a given year meaning, I break my arm, I can get doctor's visits, x-rays, lab work and prescriptions up to $5,000 for that one ailment or illness for my arm," Petcove said.

If, say, you need your appendix taken out later that year, you'd get $5,000 dollars worth of coverage for that as well.

Petcove says mini-med plans start as low as $40 per month for a single person.

Individual policies can be as low as $60.

And when choosing coverage, make sure you get an insurance policy that is governed by federal HIPAA standards.

Many people can be confused by the way discount medical plans are marketed.

Those plans are not insurance plans and are not covered under HIPAA.

And this is important because under certain HIPAA rules, when you switch from one HIPAA insurance policy to another, you cannot be excluded for pre-existing conditions.

LINKS & TIPS:

http://www.cms.hhs.gov/HealthInsReformforConsume/
http://www.cms.hhs.gov/HealthInsReformforConsume/Downloads/HIPAA_Eligibility_Criteria.pdf
http://www.dol.gov/ebsa/faqs/faq_consumer_hipaa.html

Other tips from Robert Petcover: · -Take post-college courses part-time to prolong healthcare coverage (I can also get you a recent college grad who is doing this to interview)
-CVS Minute Clinics ? Urgent Care Facilities
-Be preventive minded ? take daily vitamins
-Seek over the counter prescriptions
-Buy discount Prescriptions ? $4 for some generics at Target or WalMart
-Communicate with your physician for the lowest costing medication for your symptoms

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