Transitioning from college can be an overwhelming experience, presenting a new set of decisions to be made – such as how to choose a health insurance plan.
While in school, or even up to age 26, you might have relied on your parents to make that decision or chosen to stay on their plan. If you’re choosing for the first time, it’s important to consider all your options.
Consumer experts say there are at least four main tips for choosing health insurance as a recent graduate:
1. Know Your Options
Coverage through a college or university is no longer an option, so consider what else is out there. First, if you haven’t yet reached age 26, you may stay on a parent’s health insurance. Assuming, of course, that your parent is OK with that.
If you’re transitioning from college into full-time employment, explore the insurance options offered by your employer. Determine which one plan suits your needs.
And if you’re not employed full-time, or not in a job with employer-sponsored coverage, search health plan websites or healthcare.gov to see what individual coverage is being offered through the Affordable Care Act exchanges. You may even discover you are eligible for a subsidy or Medicaid.
2. Consider How You Use Health Care
Insurance plans will offer different levels of coverage depending on the services you may use. Assess your medical history and how frequently you need care. Do you tend to make multiple visits to the doctor each year? Do you have a chronic condition like diabetes or asthma? Have you been told you need surgery?
It’s important to ask yourself questions about how often you tend to seek medical care. Then compare the available health plans to determine which one better suits your needs.
3. Think About the Doctors You Prefer
If you already have a preferred doctor, check to make sure they are still covered by the insurance plans under consideration. You should be able to ask the doctor’s office directly or call the insurance plan’s customer service. The provider search site from Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina helps customers determine which doctors are covered by their plans.
4. Tap Into Other Resources
For many young adults, parents are the first point of contact when seeking advice about important decisions. Parents typically have more experience dealing with health insurance so they may be able to help you navigate this decision.
Understanding health insurance isn’t always easy. Considering all of your options, identifying your needs and knowing which resources to use can make the decision easier.