May 08, 2015

Congrats, graduates! You’ve got a diploma, now get health insurance

Congrats, graduates! You’ve got a diploma, now get health insurance.

As a new college graduate, you’re taking the next steps on your professional and personal journeys. If you’re heading into the working world, you may get health insurance through your job. But if you don’t get a job right away, you have options for health coverage. Here are 4 ways you can get covered:

1. Stay covered on a parent’s plan

You may be able to get covered under a parent’s health insurance plan until you turn 26. This is true even if you’re married, not living at home, or not financially dependent on your parents.

2. Get coverage through the Health Insurance Marketplace

All Marketplace plans offer a comprehensive set of benefits including physician visits, preventive care, hospital stays, and prescriptions. If your student health plan is ending or you’re losing other coverage when you graduate, you may qualify for a Special Enrollment Period to sign up for private health insurance in the Marketplace. See if you qualify for a Special Enrollment Period.

You may also be eligible for a Special Enrollment Period if you age off of a parent’s plan or experience another qualifying life event, like getting married, having a baby, or moving to a new area.

3. Get coverage through Medicaid or CHIP

Medicaid and CHIP provide health coverage for some individuals, families and children, pregnant women, the elderly with certain incomes, and people with disabilities. In some states the program covers all adults below a certain income level.

If you qualify for Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), you can enroll any time of the year.

Learn how to apply for Medicaid and CHIP.

4. Buy a catastrophic health plan

If you’re under 30 you can buy a catastrophic health plan. These plans are an affordable way to protect yourself from the high costs of worst-case scenarios, like an accident or serious illness. They cover 3 primary care visits per year before you meet your deductible, as well as certain preventive care benefits.

What happens if you don’t have health coverage?

If you can afford health coverage but you don’t have it, you may have to pay a fee. There’s no special student exemption.