The semi new health care law (the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act) takes steps to ensure that protects young adults who previously were taken off their parent's health plan after age 21, But what happens when you turn 26?
Some states require insurers to extend parental coverage to adult children 26 and over; New Jersey eligibility lasts until you're 30. So check your state laws about coverage for young adults. And military families are still going to have the kids taken off their coverage, since the extension to age 26 does not apply to TRICARE.
Other alternatives for young adults:
COBRA: Allows you to retain the same coverage under your parents plan for as long as 36 months. Be prepared to pay hundreds of dollars per month.
Colleges plans: discounted health insurance plans for students who aren't covered through their parents. Yearly premiums could run as much as $2,400, but the average is about $850, about one-fourth the cost of premiums for employer-sponsored group plans. Check to make sure you can enroll if you are part time.
Discount plans: Sometimes these are disguised as insurance. Usually they come as a card. Negotiated rates are different than health insurance because they don't cover medical expenses over a fixed amount. Be very, very careful if considering a medical discount plan. Warning flags are usually the nominal cost, 39.95 to 89.95 per month.
New Employment: Get a job with group health insurance. many companies are replacing older, higher priced workers with people wiling to work for less, right out of college. Employers pay around 80% of the premium for you, making group coverage one of the least expensive.
Marriage - If you marry someone with health insurance, compare plans and don't forget about maternity coverage if you're thinking about having children or have an "accident." Just be careful marrying under 30 - that other person will probably change!
Medicaid - If your income is below a certain % of the federal poverty level you may qualify for Medicaid (Medi-Cal in California) coverage, depending on your assets. It can be comprehensive and have little or no cost. Go to Benefits.gov. Check the requirements, since your state may set income limits so low, you may not qualify
You can choose to go to a community or county health center. Google low cost or low income clinics. Read about more tips to save on healthcare without health insurance.
Shop online: you can get multiple rates quickly but they don't underwrite you for several days for your medical history. If you are on expensive meds or have a chronic medical condition, you may be declined or charged more. Get rates at the top by entering your zip code, the choose shop multiple carriers. Underwriting guidlines are different for each insurer.
What type of buy health insurance to buy:
High-deductible plans are a a cheaper option if you're healthy with a low risk lifestyle (no extreme sports or high risk jobs). As long as you are able to pay the entire amount of the deductible if necessary.
HSAs "health savings account" will make saving up less painful and is tax deductible as well.
HMOs (like Kaiser) and very popular and
cover a lot of your expenses. But most care must occur inside their network. You primary care physician (PCP) must also provide will have to provide you with a referral for even simple lab test or xrays.
PPOs offer greater freedom of choice than an HMO, but don't cover as much. You can sometimes self refer for simple lab test or xrays without having to visit a doctor.
POS point-of-service plans that combine the features of an HMO and a PPO. You select a primary care physician and they still make referrals, but you are not limited to a closed network of doctors as in an HMO.
Dental insurance does not cover a lot and it has waiting period. There is a debate on if they are cost effective at all.