Individual health insurance for young adults
As and when 2014 comes along, we may be looking at mandatory health coverage. That's all rather uncertain given all the cases that are lining up to attract the attention of the Supreme Court. So instead of guessing what the final decision will be, let's focus on the here and now. As children, we shelter on our parent's health plans and policies. Except, of course, these have become increasingly unaffordable for the poor and self-employed. Even employers have been feeling the pinch and pass on some of the cost to their employees. It's tough out there right now. But when you start to grow up, there are decisions to be made. The health plans offered by many employers allow dependents to stay on the plan up to around 26 years old. This actually varies by state. Some actually allow employers to go up to 30 years old but this is a small minority. So, keeping this real, there's a good case for leeching on your parent's plan or policy for the maximum possible number of years. But not every parent is insured.
Let's say you don't have the grades to get into college and you're either unemployed or working as a bottom feeder. Here the state may help you out if there's a health crisis, i.e. you have an accident or fall ill. If you earn less than your state's poverty level, you can be entitled to claim on Medicaid for a wide range of treatment at little cost. Many states actively try to discourage this. The electorate gets all worked up about scroungers. But the right is there if you qualify. If you marry or get into a steady relationship, don't forget the joy of pregnancy. Should you suddenly find parenthood on the horizon, you don't want to face any hospital bills connected with the lead up to the birth or any immediate health problems with the baby.
Your best hope is to find work with a good health plan. This is the cheapest way of getting the most comprehensive coverage. Once in, you can keep the benefits going through COBRA should the job disappear (although this can often be an expensive proposition). If you're self-employed, always remember what you pay for. The cheap health insurance policies have the stingiest coverage. Indeed, if you are looking to buy your own policy, you need to look very carefully at the extent of the coverage on offer. Further, look at the amounts you're expected to find as co-payments. If cash is short, it may be better to choose a higher monthly installment. The same applies to the deductible. It may look a good saving to agree to a high number, but can you actually afford it if you fall ill?
That just leaves one other possibility. If your grades are good enough, colleges and universities usually offer reasonably good cheap health insurance. Even when you leave, the alumni can continue coverage if you're finding it difficult to get a good paying job. Being young is no excuse for not protecting yourself should you be injured or fall ill. It makes sense to have some insurance.