Four Health Insurance Options for College Students and Recent Grads

Whether you’re a college student or a recent graduate, you’re most likely required to have health insurance this year.

Poor health may be the last thing on your mind, but as of March 31,2014 the Affordable Care Act requires most Americans to have “minimum essential” health insurance.

For recent graduates who landed a job with benefits, you’ll have the option to purchase insurance through your employer.

But what are the other health insurance options for college students and recent graduates?

Stay on your parents’ plan

For most college students and recent grads, you’ll be eligible to stay on your parents’ health insurance plan until you turn 26.

Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, if you are under the age of 26 you can remain on or join your parents’ health insurance plan even if you are married, not living with your parents, attending school, not financially dependent on your parents or are eligible to enroll in your employer’s plan.

If you go to school in a different state, contact the insurance company to make sure there is an in-network provider near campus.

The absence of in-network coverage could create extra expenses and force you to make difficult choices about your health and finances.

You may also want to schedule routine preventative care visits while you’re home visiting over summer break or over the holidays to have access to the plan’s network.

Sign up for a health plan through your school

Many colleges offer their own health plans to students, which in most cases cover you under the health care law.

Student health plans provide an advantage over other health insurance options because the premium costs are combined with other expenses you’re already paying, such as tuition and room and board.

These plans are especially appealing to those students who are over the age of 26 and no longer eligible to remain on their parents’ health insurance plans.

However, it’s important to examine student health plans carefully because they may not meet the minimum essential health insurance requirement mandated by the Affordable Care Act and there may be yearly limits on claims or doctor visits.

Purchase subsidized coverage through the online marketplace

If you did not enroll in health insurance via the Health Insurance Marketplace by the deadline on March 31, 2014, you’ll likely have to wait until the 2015 open enrollment period begins on November 15, 2014.

However, there are some circumstances where you could qualify for a special enrollment period, allowing you to purchase a private health plan through the marketplace outside of the open enrollment period.

If you experience a qualifying life event during the year – which includes recently graduating from college, among other events – you may qualify for a special 60-day enrollment period. If you think you qualify for a special enrollment period, you can start by filling out a Marketplace application.

Purchase ‘catastrophic’ coverage

If you’re under 30, you have the option of purchasing a “catastrophic” health plan, which usually have lower monthly premiums but high deductibles.

Catastrophic plans can be an affordable way to protect you from the high costs of an accident or serious illness.

These plans also cover three primary care visits per year at no cost before you meet your deductible. They also cover free preventive services.

Still have questions? As with all tax laws, TurboTax knows the new health care law inside and out. TurboTax Health can help answer your questions to help you understand how the new health care law impacts you and your finances.

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