Graduating from college is a commendable achievement, but it can take some time to secure your first professional job. Many times the biggest fear and headache of being an unemployed college graduate isn’t making enough money. It’s health insurance.
The hassle and confusion of finding heath care coverage can be overwhelming, especially when you’re fresh out of college looking for work in a still-struggling economy. But, there are alternatives for those just coming onto the job force.
1. Stay on your parents’/guardians’ coverage.
Often the easiest and most popular option is to remain on parental or guardian coverage, especially since the passing of the Affordable Care Act of 2010, which allows dependants to remain under their parents' or guardians' insurance until age 26. But, for some that may not be an option. Restrictions and extensions of coverage vary by state, so make sure to check your state’s rules and regulations.
2. See what your school has to offer.
Universities know that graduates seeking their first jobs have limited options. So, many have extensions of their student health insurance plans for recent alumni. Contact the university office or the alumni association in charge of the student health care plan to see if they offer any coverage to recent graduates
3. Find your own coverage.
If you’ve graduated, or are getting ready to in December, and aren’t covered by your school or parents/guardians insurance, this may be your only option until you land a job. The most important step is to do your research. There are sites like Consumer Reports and HealthCare.gov that will take you through what coverage best fits you. Ask yourself how much freedom you want in being able to choose which doctors to see, if you need dental and vision coverage, and how much you’re willing to spend.
After getting hired, there are often still several insurance issues to consider. Many companies that offer health insurance have a mandatory evaluation period before new employees qualify for benefits. Keep this in mind when planning your coverage even after getting hired. Talk with the HR representative of your new company to find the option that will work best for you.
Finding coverage isn’t always easy, and can be very confusing and time consuming. But, it’s worth it in the long run to take the time to learn the ends and outs so you can spend more time focusing on finding that first job to start your career and less time worrying about your health insurance coverage.
By Jared Cole