If adversity breeds character, then this summer’s crop of graduating college students are doubly blessed. Not only will they face the tightest job market in decades, but they will do so precisely as coverage runs out on their parent’s or school’s health plan.
For many grads, the temptation to put off purchasing health insurance in the hopes of landing a job – with health insurance as a part of an overall benefits package – will be strong. And in years past, when English and History majors were being courted for managerial spots by harried recruiters with dozens of dot-com positions to fill, that strategy might have made some sense. But this summer, most graduates will need to be more pragmatic.
The good news is that there are quite a number of affordable health-insurance options out there, and navigating the maze of available policies is easier than ever with the help of the Internet. One site that offers a free service to consumers, www.eHealthInsurance.com, allows would-be health-insurance customers to compare rates on a secure Web server without requiring them to divulge pages of personal information. You’ll find well-known and trusted insurance names like Blue Cross, Blue Shield, Health Net, Fortis, Golden Rule, Kaiser, and PacifiCare, depending on the zip code entered for the search.
A visit to the site illustrates how easy it is for a graduating student to shop for health insurance online. A search of policies available for 22-year-old males in California, for example, generates 30 plans ranging from $26 to $287.90 per month. In addition to the immediate at-a-glance comparisons (plan type, amount of deductible, etc.), the site also permits detailed comparisons of up to four plans at once.
Of particular interest to graduates are the short-term insurance options. Short-term policies are perfect for job seekers because they can be purchased by the month, which means that when you do land your dream job, you won’t be locked into a long-term policy, resulting in a lot of unnecessary expense. Short-term coverage tends to be less comprehensive than regular health insurance, but it’s also more affordable. If our same 22-year old male searches for short-term policies at eHealthInsurance, he can choose among 21 plans ranging in price from $33.50 to $103 per month. At such rates, a few months spent on out-of-pocket insurance premiums seems a very reasonable hedge against an unforeseen and costly medical condition.
But perhaps the best news for procrastinating students, whose attentions have been properly focused on finals rather than the relative merits of competing PPOs, is that it’s not too late to get new health insurance before a current policy lapses. Customers purchasing short-term health insurance plans can receive coverage within 24 hours of applying. Which means that students can spend the rest of the summer – and, if necessary, all fall-focused on their new most-important assignment: finding a job.
The above article is for informational purposes only and should not be considered advice or counsel as to any particular individual or family’s health insurance needs.