What Should Young Adults Do?

{flickr|100|campaign} For once, let’s forget about the future. With the cases on making health coverage mandatory almost certainly heading for the Supreme Court, there’s little point is trying to second-guess how that’s all going to turn out. So here’s something on the right now for young adults. This makes you someone with very little money and you have never had a real day of illness in your life. For you, the whole idea of insuring your health looks like the biggest waste of money ever invented. Except all this could change in a heartbeat if you happen to be into sports or some more X-games like skateboarding. Just one slip and you could have dislocated your knee or broken your arm. If you are really lucky, this is a quick trip down to the emergency room and several weeks of pain and discomfort as bones knit back together again. But if you are unlucky, this turns into thousands of dollars of medical expenses. Now you get to find out where the bill goes and how actively payment is chased.

So what are the best strategies? If your parents are on a plan through their employers, aim to stay covered that way for as long as possible. It will cost far less than looking for coverage in your own right. The legally enforced industry standard is to offer some cover for those of you unmarried and still less than 26 years old. In some states, this can go as high as 30 years old. But never forget this has a cost. Sadly, employers do not cover dependents out of the kindness of their hearts. If your parents lose their jobs there’s continuing protection available through COBRA, but this may be more than the family can afford.

Should you be finishing high school and you can go to college, most of the public and private colleges offer plans to students who have no cover through their parents. This is usually about a quarter the cost of the employer option. With this recession, unemployment remains high even among new graduates with a high GPA. Ask your alumni association whether they offer a plan. This can be a useful bridge until you can find something permanent. But not everyone gets into college. That means you have no options until you find a job. Hopefully, your employer offers a plan. This is the cheapest form of coverage but ask yourself how big a deductible you can afford to pay. If bad luck does strike, you could be in trouble if you do not have the cash. If there’s no employer plan and you earn less than the poverty level (currently $ 10,830) you may qualify for Medicaid. This is not a time to be embarrassed. If you need help and qualify, take it. Once you have a little money, look to buy some short term health insurance to start building up track record. In the first instance, get health insurance quotes for basic coverage and add to it as your income improves. No matter how young or old, it always makes sense to have some health coverage.