Whether you have just finished your bachelor degree or are about to finally complete your PhD dissertation, you are probably wondering about health insurance options. Before you take that next step in life, check out 8 health care options for recent California graduates listed below.
1. No Insurance Clearly least expensive, this option is arguably perfect for standard-issue super hero – your Supermans, Cal Ripkins and like. If you do not fall into this category and plan to leave house, play hoops, ski, drive, wear high heels or slice a bagel, you should look into other options on list. Consider these facts.
- 12 million people are rushed to emergency room for accidents annually. Over 22% of all injury visits to Emergency Rooms are by otherwise healthy individuals with sports related injuries.
- The average hospital visit can cost 5 times as much for someone without insurance as it does for big medical insurers like Aetna or Blue Shield. An uninsured patient might be charged $14,000 for an appendectomy, while an HMO with big bargaining power might be billed only $2,500 for same operation.
- In 1999 nearly 500,000 Americans filed for bankruptcy protection because of excessive medical bills, accounting for approximately 40% of personal bankruptcies.
Realistically, having no insurance is not an option. Even Jonny Knoxsville has health insurance.
Pros: It’s free.
Cons: If you get injured or become ill, you and your family can be hit with a devastating financial burden. Many ER’s request a cash deposit from uninsured prior to treatment!
2. MediCal MediCal is California’s version of Medicaid; a state/federal health insurance program for individuals who have poverty-level income and few-to-no assets. MediCal covers children, elderly, blind and/or disabled, and people who are eligible to receive federally assisted income. To learn more about MediCal, visit http://www.cms.hhs.gov/medicaid/default.asp? . Don’t get MediCal confused with MediCare. MediCare is Federal health insurance program for Americans age 65 and older and for certain disabled Americans.
Pros: It’s free.
Cons: Qualification parameters are limited to disabled and those with extremely low-income levels and are strictly enforced. Don’t try to cheat this system – it’s bad karma.
3. Free Clinics Most urban areas have local clinics that offer low-cost or even free medical care including routine doctor visits, STD, and HIV testing. Services vary by clinic – check your local phone directory for a list of clinics near you. A free clinic, however, does not function like an emergency room, and therefore cannot help you if you’ve blown out your ACL playing touch football with your idiot friends on Thanksgiving. Free clinics generally do not offer major surgery, hospital stays, or long-term care.
Pros: It is low-cost, and may even be free.
Cons: Clinics do not function as full-fledged hospitals, nor do they allow patients to choose their own doctor. Also, bring something to read – you’ll be there awhile.
4. Mom and Dad Most family insurance plans will cover kids up to age 19 if they are not full-time students, or until age 25 if they are (you must be able to verify that you are a full-time student to be included in your parents’ coverage). Some plans stop coverage immediately upon graduation, while others will extend coverage through first three months following graduation. Check with your parents’ plan to see when your coverage ends. When it does, one option is to simply purchase same coverage as you had under your parent’s plan. Click here to get a quick quote.
Pros: Staying under your parents’ plan is great if you qualify.
Cons: You have to be under 19 or be able to prove that you are a full time student to qualify.
5. New Employer If you get a full time job after graduation, your job may come with health insurance benefits as part of your total compensation package. But check with your human resources contact and read your offer letter closely -- some companies require that you be employed for up to six months before their health coverage kicks in. Also make sure you understand status of your employment with this new company. With economy way it is, many firms are forced to cut costs by hiring on new employees on a “consultant” basis. If you are hired on as a “consultant” rather than as a full-time employee, your new employer may not be obligated to offer you health insurance. Ask HR division of your new company how they handle benefits.