By Michael Mahoney
In addition to getting a job, finding a place to live, and generally figuring out what you want to do with your life, you may also find yourself struggling with how to obtain health insurance. If you aren’t set with health coverage from an employer, don’t worry. You have options.
Stick with Mom and Dad
If you’re under the age of 26, you can stay on your parents’ health insurance plan. Even if you are married or not living at home, you can still join your parents’ plan as long they claim you as a dependant on their taxes. Once you turn 26, you’re on your own.
Shop the Marketplace
If your student health plan ends after graduation, you may qualify for a Special Enrollment Period. This means you can enroll in a Marketplace health plan typically sold during the national Open Enrollment Period. Shopping the Marketplace guarantees you certain benefits like prescription drug coverage, emergency room services and maternity care. It can also save you money. If you earn between $11, 670 and $46,680, you may qualify for savings on your health insurance premiums. To take advantage of your special opportunity to shop for a Marketplace health plan, you must enroll 60 days from the time your student health insurance expires.
Prepare for Worst-Case Scenarios
If you are under 30, you have the option to buy a catastrophic health insurance plan. A catastrophic plan is a bare bones coverage option that protects against worst-case scenarios like unexpected illnesses or serious accidents. These plans usually have low monthly premium rates and high deductibles. This means you’ll be on the hook for most of your medical care until you reach a certain dollar amount – usually thousands of dollars. While this option requires you to take on some financial risk, it may be the right choice for you if you are young, healthy and unable to afford a major medical health plan.
Apply for Medicaid
Free or low-cost health insurance is available to people with low incomes through Medicaid. That’s the government program designed to help people who cannot afford private health insurance. Eligibility varies by state and is based on income. Some states recently expanded their Medicaid programs so more people are eligible. If your state expanded its Medicaid program and you make less than $16,243 a year ($33,465 for a family of four), you’ll probably qualify for Medicaid coverage. If your state did not expand its Medicaid program and you earn less than $11,670 a year ($23,850 for a family of four), you’ll likely qualify. Your eligibility for Medicaid will depend on your parents’ income if they still claim you on their taxes.
No matter how you choose to do it, remember that it’s important to get covered. Going without health insurance leaves you vulnerable to major medical expenses and the fine for not obtaining health insurance.
GoHealth is a Chicago-based company that powers GoHealthInsurance.com, a private health insurance marketplace that has helped more than 30 million consumers shop for coverage – for free. With world-class technology and a team of licensed insurance advisors, GoHealth makes it easier and more efficient for individuals and families to shop and enroll in health insurance coverage.