According to US Census Data, Americans in their twenties are the least likely of any age group to have health insurance. Even if you are young, healthy, and poor, is going without health insurance an acceptable risk or just plain stupid?
In 2006, 29% of 18 to 24 year olds were uninsured, as were 26% of 24 to 34 year olds. Compare that to just 10% of Americans under 18 and 18% of Americans between 35 and 45.
Whether because of the cost, a feeling of invincibility, or just plan ignorance, more than a quarter of American twentysomethings don’t have health insurance.
Are you uninsured? If so, you may want to take a serious look at your health insurance options. Check out my review of eHealthInsurance, where you can compare plans from over 170 companies (including short-term plans for between jobs).
When we’re no longer covered by our parents’ health insurance plans and not yet covered by an employer-paid policy, health insurance represents an enormous expense to a student or non-working twentysomething. But just because you’re young, strong, and healthy doesn’t mean you should take the risk going without health insurance.
Insurance Costs Money, But the ER Costs More
You may be healthy in your twenties, but you’re not invincible. I remember when I was first out of college and earning peanuts, I resented paying for health insurance because I never went to the doctor and had no prescriptions. I still don’t, but I am happy to be insured.
That’s because doctor’s visits and common prescription drugs are not the reasons you need health insurance. You need health insurance “in case”. You need health insurance in case you are in a terrible car accident and need emergency surgery. You need health insurance in case you are diagnosed with a disease and need to see specialists, and take unusual, very expensive treatments.
Such surgeries and treatments can easily cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. That’s why having health insurance – even in your twenties – isn’t just the healthy thing to do, it’s the economical thing to do.
How to Find Coverage
Most college students are covered by your parent’s insurance plan, but you lose that coverage upon graduation, or when you reach a certain age. The actual cut-off varies by state, but in most states the age is between 21 and 25.
If you’re already working full-time, or have a job lined up after graduation, you are most likely covered, but it’s smart to check the specifics.
Employers are required to provide health insurance for full-time, permanent employees, although the start of coverage can be deferred for a period of time, sometimes up to six months. And, with the cost of healthcare skyrocketing, more and more employers will be looking for ways to avoid footing the bill, including hiring more part-time or contract employees.
If you are going to be unemployed for a period of time, or your employer-sponsored coverage doesn’t kick in immediately, you’ll want to research a COBRA policy. These plans, required by federal law, allow you to purchase health insurance for up to 36 months that excludes existing medical conditions when you are removed from your parents’ or a previous employers’ plan.
Unfortunately, COBRA plans are expensive, often costing between $200 and $500 a month. If you are healthy, purchasing individual coverage will be cheaper. An individual health insurance policy with a high deductible may cost lost than $100 a month.
Compare plans and rates now using eHealthInsurance.
Are you uninsured? Or have you purchased your own health insurance before? Leave a comment!