Think You’re Too Young for Health Insurance? It’s Time to Reconsider
6Many young adults just starting out on their own think that they are too young for health insurance, but it is something they should reconsider. Health insurance is important to have and without it you can get into financial trouble very quickly. No matter how good your health is, you should have some type of health insurance plan.
There are different avenues that you can take to get health insurance, depending on your situation. If your parents or guardians have health coverage it is usually smart to stay on their plan until absolutely necessary. Once that is no longer an option, you will need to start your own search, ideally before your coverage expires.
Importance of Health Insurance
You may think that only old people or those with health conditions need health insurance so there is no rush to get it if you are young. However, there are many reasons why having health insurance is important.
Accidents happen and cannot be predicted. For those without insurance, medical care for unexpected things adds up quickly and can lead to financial ruin. If you are otherwise healthy and don’t want to pay a lot for insurance premiums, you should get catastrophic insurance as minimum coverage to cover you for any accidental injuries that may happen.
The Urban Institute also warns that chronic conditions can creep up. If you don’t have health insurance there is a smaller chance that you will get the care that you need. Plus, the new condition will make it more difficult for you to get health insurance in the future.
People without insurance get fewer screenings and preventive services, and do so less frequently than those with insurance. This can result in an illness being diagnosed further along in the stages of illness, which makes it more difficult to treat.
Many young people decide not to get health insurance due to financial reasons. What they fail to realize is that not having insurance will end up being much more expensive in the long run if anything does happen.
Staying on Your Parents’ Insurance Plan
Many young people have the option of continuing with health coverage under their parent or guardians’ plan. If the plan covers young people and your parents are alright with you staying on the plan, this is a smarter way to go. The coverage is usually better than what could be found as an individual.
According to Healthcare.gov, adults up to the age of 26 can stay on their parent’s policy under many circumstances. They can be living on their own, not be financially dependent on either of their parents, be attending school, eligible to enroll in a health plan at work, and even be married.
Other Insurance Options
Once you turn 26, you will need to figure out your own source of health insurance. Unfortunately, health insurance can be very expensive and can be tough to obtain if you already have a health condition of some kind.
For cost consideration as well as benefits offered, joining a group plan is the best option. With a group plan, your premiums are much lower. Also, you can’t be turned down because of a pre-existing condition, nor will the condition by exempt from coverage in most situations.
If you cannot be on your parents’ insurance plan and you are under the age of 26, there may be some alternative options. If you are still in college, many schools offer group health insurance that is fairly inexpensive. Once you graduate, ask your alumni group if they are partnered with a company that offers group health insurance.
For young people right out of college and looking for their first job, finding a position that offers health insurance benefits is smart. In fact, the Financial Post recommends taking a job that pays less but has health insurance benefits over one that pays more but has no benefits. Of course, you’ll want to do some additional research and make sure that the plan is right for your health needs, but it is often the best route to join your employer’s plan.
If your employer does not offer benefits, if you are unemployed, or if you work for yourself, finding health insurance can be a bit trickier. In most cases, you will need to get an individual policy. With individual policies you are being graded by your past and current health conditions, age, weight, lifestyle, and activity level.
Even if you are perfectly healthy and have been in the past, individual plans can be very pricey. For young people this can be a challenge, as they often don’t have a lot of money. For those who need an individual policy but can’t spend a lot of money, the Insurance Information Institute offers some advice.
If you are young and healthy, consider getting a basic and essential plan to start off with. If you choose to pay a higher deductible in the event of an incident, your monthly premium will be lower. With a plan you can save money for services by only using doctors who are in network with the coverage.
Don’t think just because you’re young, you don’t need to have health insurance. It is an important thing to have and there are many options that you can explore.