Finding the right health insurance at the right price isn't easy. It can be difficult for anyone at any age to find the best plan. If you're a young adult just out of college, looking for job, or your employer doesn't offer health benefits, it can be a stressful time in your life.
If you're a young person in one of these situations, you do have options for medical coverage. Uninsured young adults make up 30% of all uninsured Americans, but they have the highest rate of injury-related emergency room visits, according to the Center for Disease Control. Instead of going without health coverage altogether, check out these alternatives below.
Health Insurance Through the Affordable Care Act
In 2010, President Obama passed the Affordable Care Act and certain parts of the law directly affect young people. For example, if you're under 26 and can't get insurance through your current employer, you may qualify for coverage through a parent. According to the New York Times, in some cases, even if you're married and your parents don't claim you on their taxes as a dependent, you may still be able to get insurance through them. There are restrictions for signing up under a parent's insurance plan depending on other insurance options available to you, so research the Affordable Care Act to see if you qualify. Keep in mind the Affordable Care Act adds additional features at the beginning of each year, until 2015. So, if you're looking for inexpensive healthcare right now, or in the next few years, you may want to look at this option. You can find more information at Healthcare.gov.
Inexpensive Private Plans Do Exist
Although it might not seem like it, there are private insurance plans out there that don't cost hundreds of dollars every month. A young adult who doesn't have a lot of physical problems can find insurance for less than $100 a month. Of course, there is a drawback when it comes to the premium. A quick look on eHealthInsurance.com for a 30-year-old male insurance plan brings up multiple plans for under $100. The deductibles range from $5,000 to $10,000, and some plans will cover doctor's office visits. Other plans may charge a co-pay or not help with the cost at all.
Many of these plans are month-to-month and don't charge a cancellation fee. If you find a job in the future that offers health insurance, you can drop your cheap plan without a penalty. While the deductibles can be high with cheaper coverage, consider the fact that 46% of young adults who don't have insurance have some kind of medical debt.
The Forgotten Option, Health Co-Ops
If you can think a little outside the box, another way to get inexpensive healthcare is by joining a health co-op. Think of it like a membership organization where you pay to be a member, and one of its benefits is cheaper medical coverage. There are different types of co-ops out there and they all don't work exactly alike. Some co-ops, like Health Partners, have their own physicians, clinics and hospitals. They're able to keep costs lower by offering both medical insurance and medical care.
Other co-ops don't offer actual insurance and instead cover the costs of most medical expenses. With these co-ops you pay a monthly fee to be a part of the co-op, then the co-op will either reimburse you for your medical bills or work directly with the health provider on your bills. Many co-ops don't work the same way as traditional insurance, so be sure to do a lot of research on the co-op you're considering.
The Bottom Line
If you're young and in the market for health coverage, consider all your options before you decide to forgo any coverage at all. It's better to have a plan in place, even if it only covers extreme situations.