Your child has graduated high school and is off to college. What are your health insurance options under Obamacare?
So your child has graduated high school and is now off to college. Exciting times but also stressful with many new things like a new address, new schedule… and new health insurance, maybe?
What are the health insurance options for a young adult?
- Stay on mom or dad’s health plan until age 26
- Buy an individual health insurance policy
- Apply for school sponsored health plans
- Buy a short-term plan or accident insurance
- See if you qualify as an individual for Medicaid
First, Understand How Obamacare Enrollment Periods Work
Staying on mom or dad’s health plan until age 26
Obamacare allows your dependant child to stay on your health insurance policy until they reaches 26 years old. This is not always the best option because if you live in a different city or state, you may not have access to network doctors and hospitals. Seeing medical providers outside of your plan’s network can drastically reduce – even entirely negate – the coverage your plan offers. It may only offer emergency room or urgent care visits when at school. Students may have to come home to their parent’s house to visit their primary doctor.
- Check your provider network options near the college campus.
Buy an individual health insurance policy
You can buy an individual health insurance plan on your own during Obamacare’s nationwide open enrollment period, or when you experience a qualifying life event.
Open enrollment is prime time to buy coverage on your own. Under Obamacare, it only comes around once per year. Open enrollment for 2019 health insurance plans is scheduled to begin on November 1, 2018 and to continue through January 15, 2018. If you need coverage outside of open enrollment you’ll need to experience a qualifying life event or purchase something other than Obamacare-compliant major medical coverage.
When you experience a qualifying life event, it may trigger a 60-day special enrollment period during which you can enroll in coverage outside of open enrollment. Qualifying life events include things like getting married or divorced, moving to a new coverage area, having a child, or losing coverage you had through your parents or an employer.
- Check with a licensed agent to help you get a view on your options.
- It doesn’t cost anything extra to work with an agent
- An agent representing multiple insurers can give you a broad range of choices
- Licensed online agents like eHealth may even be able help you enroll in subsidies if you qualify
Apply for school sponsored health plans
Most colleges require students to carry health insurance of some kind. Some schools offer health insurance policies to their students. Fewer schools are offering these now than in years past.
- Check with the college to find out if your school offers health insurance that meets the coverage requirements of Obamacare.
Buy a short-term plan or accident insurance
Short-term health insurance plans are affordable and you can buy them all year round. However, it’s possible to be turned down based on your medical history, and coverage under these plans is limited. You may also be subject to a tax penalty since short-term plans don’t meet the coverage requirements of Obamacare.
On the positive side, short-term plans can help protect your finances against unexpected medical costs for a limited period of time and can tide you over until the next open enrollment period.
- Check out the pros and cons of short-term plans.
See if you qualify as an individual for Medicaid
Eligibility for Medicaid is based on family size and income, among other factors (which may vary by state). If your child chooses to become independent and file federal tax returns on their own they may qualify for Medicaid.
- Check into your state’s Medicaid program; you can start with medicaid.gov.