Health insurance options making me sick

By Molly Lynch

When I graduated from high school four years ago, I found myself telling almost everyone I knew how thrilled I was to be entering “the real world.” Far away from the confines of the life I was used to, the idea of college seemed like perpetual bliss: my first ticket into the adult world.

Here I am, almost four years later, six weeks away from donning a cap and gown, and I can’t seem to tear myself away from anticipating my entrance into the same “real world” I imagined before college. This time,  however, I’m not as excited.

It wasn’t until two weeks ago when I was on my last spring break ever, that I realized something else I’d have to worry about post-college—the daunting task of obtaining health insurance.

I wondered how I could let something so important and so vital (literally) become the last thing to enter my realm of concerns, but the truth is: I’m not alone. According to a study done by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC), 20 percent of young people would opt to not get health insurance in order to save money. And sadly, I can’t say I blame them.

As if facing the toughest job market in decades isn’t enough, many recent grads are also concerned with finding a suitable place to live that is far away from mom and dad’s basement and paying back those student loans that have been racking up for the past four years.

While I’m fortunate enough to not have any major health concerns, emergencies happen. Last fall, I found myself in a local emergency room due to a spider bite that turned my leg into a swollen blend of maroon and purple. Without thinking twice, I handed the receptionist at the hospital my mom’s insurance card, which covers my entire family. Two weeks later, when my parents received the bill, they informed me that, without insurance, tending to a spider bite could cost a hefty $800.

I can’t imagine if this were to happen to me six months from now. Or what if I broke a bone? I tend to be clumsy, so wiping out on the ice and breaking my wrist wouldn’t be out of the question. And worst of all, what if I’m still jobless when something like this happens?

For most recent grads, the option of short-term health care is most appealing, especially if a job with benefits isn’t lined up right away, something many of us can bet on in this economic climate. With options to create a plan lasting between one month and one year, short-term insurance plans seem like the perfect solution when transitioning between student life and adult life.

The only downside? Short-term coverage is far less comprehensive than what many of us are used to or need on a day-to-day basis, and if you’re used to mom and dad’s insurance footing most of the bill for your prescription meds, a plan like this won’t have you covered. Others opt for COBRA (Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act), the federal law that allows recent grads to remain on a parent’s policy up to three years after graduation. But, not surprisingly, the monthly premium can be up to four times as high as usual payments.

Few will argue that health care in our great nation is an absolute nightmare. And thanks to the Internet, there seem to be hundreds of options (both good and bad) when it comes to coverage. But for new grads already facing enough new challenges, something as simple as health insurance shouldn’t be so difficult.