Health Insurance Options For Young Adults

Whether you're in college or a few years into your career, health insurance is a must you shouldn't ignore even as a young adult. But with so many options available in the market, knowing where to start is sometimes challenging.
By Travis Ryan
Updated Nov 4, 2020
young adults
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Whether you're in college or a few years into your career, health insurance is a must you shouldn't ignore even as a young adult. But with so many options available in the market, knowing where to start is sometimes challenging. Luckily, you don't have to do an extensive search to find the ideal health insurance options crafted for young adults. Use this guide to learn about the different types of health insurance options available for young adults and some of the smartest options to consider:

School Health Insurance

If you're in college, you may be eligible to participate in your school's health insurance policy. With your school's health insurance policy, you can have extra peace-of-mind to take care of your healthcare needs. For example, you may opt for your school's PPO plan to have access to local doctors for your annual wellness checkup. Your family health plan may offer the same service but limit coverage to in-network doctors who may not be close to your school. If you expect to visit the doctor regularly while you are away from home, then a school health insurance plan may be an ideal option. Make sure to review premiums and copayments and compare it with your current health insurance plan to determine if it's right for you.

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You can check with your state to see if you qualify for Medicaid. If you meet the income thresholds or special requirements, you may qualify for Medicaid. The federal government and your state partner together to administer Medicaid to low-income families. If you qualify for Medicaid, you can get full coverage for several types of services that other types of insurance policies may not cover for free or at a low cost. Plans under Medicaid may be ideal if you're working a low-wage job but can't afford your employer's healthcare plans. However, sometimes healthcare plans under Medicaid provide a limited number of in-network doctors who participate with the plan.

Short-Term Health Insurance Plans

If you only need health insurance for a short period of time, then you may consider getting a short-term health insurance plan. These plans are usually cheaper than standard health insurance plans that you pay throughout the year. But it's important to understand short-term healthcare insurance plans do not provide the same coverage. For instance, short-term health insurance plans do not have to abide by ACA rules. Thus, you won't have protection for pre-existing conditions under these plans. That means you may be denied coverage if you are pregnant or have been diagnosed with HIV, cancer, diabetes or another pre-existing condition. Short-term health policies also may have limited coverage, such as limits on coverage for doctor visits and prescriptions. Coverage shortfalls can be pricey, too. So, it's important to know the type of services the short-term policy covers to determine if it aligns with your healthcare needs.

Marketplace Health Insurance

Thanks to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA), you have the option to get health insurance directly from the federal government or your state's health insurance portal. Getting insurance via these portals is ideal when you have pre-existing conditions or lack health insurance coverage from your employer.

The law requires that all marketplace health insurance plans cover several services, including services for overnight stays at the hospital, mental health and preventative care. That means if you have a health insurance plan from the marketplace and visit an in-network doctor, you can get free coverage for services, such as diet counseling, blood pressure screening and well-woman visits.

However, you have to sign up for marketplace health insurance plans during the annual enrollment period. But you may be able to sign up for marketplace health insurance outside of the annual enrollment period if you meet the requirements for special enrollment, such as having a baby, losing healthcare coverage or moving due to a job.

Catastrophic Health insurance Plan

If you're 29 years old or younger or are experiencing a hardship, you may opt to get a catastrophic health insurance plan from the marketplace. This type of health insurance plan usually cost less than other plans in the marketplace since they carry very high deductibles. For example, you can expect to pay a deductible of $7,900 in 2019 before your coinsurance and copayments are covered by your catastrophic healthcare plan. However, catastrophic health insurance plans also cover preventative services for free, essential health benefits and a minimum of three primary care visits annually. Thus, you may consider is ideal if you are generally healthy and don't expect to use your health insurance plan often.

Your Employer's Health Insurance

Employer-sponsored health insurance has long been at the foundation of health care in the United States. Employer-sponsored health insurance accounts for half of all healthcare insurance plans in the United States. These plans are typically less than what you would pay for individual private insurance plans and they often provide extensive coverage, including coverage mandated by the ACA.

However, more employers are continuously shifting more of the responsibilities of costs for health insurance expenses over to employees. So, it's not uncommon to see health insurance plans that have a 70-30 percent sharing responsibility split or high-deductibles and coinsurance payments. A 10-percent different can mean hundreds and even thousands if you have a medical emergency that involves long hospital stays.

Final Thoughts

The type of health insurance policy you pick is a personal choice. Yet, it's an important one to make even as a young adult. By understanding the benefits and drawbacks of the various health insurance options available to you, you can choose a smart healthcare option that fits your needs.

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