General Question

monsoon's avatar

What am I/are students supposed to do about health insurance when they turn 23?

Asked by monsoon (2485 points ) July 27th, 2009

It just really hit me that in… in 9 months I will be out of health insurance. I’ll still be a student for a while, what am I supposed to do? I know a guy who didn’t have health insurance, and broke his foot, so he just left it. Just… broken.

And I’m wondering, because this seems like a serious societal flaw, what I’m supposed to do for the extra year or so before I get a “real” job.

Thanks.

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39 Answers

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

It’s tough, the health care system is awful – we, as students who have at some point turned 23 and were single were screwed

Ivan's avatar

Don’t get sick.

westy81585's avatar

If you’re like me (23, just graduated college), you’re pretty much screwed. I just got my first “real” job, working for Nestle. Unfortunately, my job is through a contractor, and they offer (and this is the quote from my recruiter through that contractor) “shitty insurance plans.” The CHEAPEST one, which would be basically usesless for anything beyond a bad case of the flu, would cost about 1/5 of my yearly income.

This is why I’m furious with all these Republican and Democrat a-holes who are shooting down the public option. It would be a godsend to me.

tiffyandthewall's avatar

i don’t have health insurance and i’m 17.
my best answer is to make minimum payments on hospital bills? and also, carry good luck charms.

MacBean's avatar

See if you qualify for Medicaid.

PandoraBoxx's avatar

Depending on your state, you may be covered on your parents plan until age 30 if you’re a full time student (FL and IL have this law coming out of their legislatures—check with your carrier.) Some carriers cover full time students through age 25, so check your policy,

Otherwise, you need to get an individual policy or at the very least, catastrophic coverage. If you’re a full time student and past the age of eligibility, you may be eligible for coverage though your university.

monsoon's avatar

Yeah, the age for me is definitely 23.

PandoraBoxx's avatar

@tiffyandthewall, you should be covered under your parents’ policy to age 19 if they have a family plan. If you’re a full time student, you’re covered under a family plan based upon the carrier’s certificate of coverage.

PandoraBoxx's avatar

@westy81585, if you don’t have pre-existing conditions, and don’t add dental, don’t have a lot of prescriptions, then you should be able to get an individual plan for under $200 a month. This is close to what a lot of group policies run. There’s some really decent dental discount plans out there.

casheroo's avatar

Welcome to adulthood? Sorry.

My husband hasn’t had insurance since he was like, 18…he’s going to be 27 this year. He just can’t get sick. Lucky for us, he hasn’t and hasn’t had any major injuries knock on wood I go on insurance off and on, which sucks because I have random weird medical issues every so often. I just push through it.
Honestly though, seeing a primary care physician actually isn’t that expensive. If you wear glasses or contacts, you can still order them through your eye doctor because they have to give you your prescription…you can order them online as well. Dentists are more expensive, if we ever have the money, I’d probably get dental insurance before anything else…mainly because that’s the one I use the most.
Insurance should be used for catastrophes, yes you need it but you’ll survive without it.
Apply for Medical Assistance, see what you qualify for.They have tons of programs that don’t have income requirements.

Facade's avatar

Good question. I hope to have all my medical shit taken care of in three years. I also hope to be married by then, so I’m guessing I’ll be on my hubby’s insurance plan.

westy81585's avatar

@PandoraBoxx So basically, if I cut the things that I would actually use (dental, vision, prescriptions), and just get insurance that covers me catching cancer or something (extraordinarily low chances).... then I only have to pay 2400 a year? ..... So basically, I’m paying 2400 a year for nothing.

Not to mention most of those plans STILL have shitty long term help (ala hospital stays, overall bill limits maxing at WAY too low amounts).

We need a public option, to get all these greedy ridiculous insurance companies fighting for our business again rather than all raising prices and sitting on their piles of money.

(Fun side note, insurance premiums have gone up nearly 5x in the past 10 years).

nikipedia's avatar

If you are still a student, you should be able to get coverage through your school. When I was an undergrad insurance was required and if you weren’t covered by another plan, you were required to purchase the school’s plan.

Once you get out in the real world, you can purchase individual health insurance while you look for a job.

YARNLADY's avatar

I agree with @nikipedia , your school probably has a group plan you can be part of. If you have a job, you can talk to your boss about getting on their policy. If not, there are several plans for singles, for a fairly reasonable fee.

My son is working full time, and he pays on full weeks pay for his plan, but it has already proven worth while, because his wife is very high maintenance health wise.

Even if you had to take a job just to pay for your health insurance, it would be worth it. Blue Cross has a policy for around $100 a month, and Kaiser is not much more. Talk to the health department at your school and ask what would be best for you.

ABoyNamedBoobs03's avatar

you figure that one out, you let me know, haven’t had insurance for about four months now, I saved up a bunch of money this summer though, plan on paying for it myself once school starts back up, though, it’s more of a temporary “oh shit” fix than anything else, I’ll run out of cash pretty quick.

PandoraBoxx's avatar

@ABoyNamedBoobs03, school policies are usually around $650 for the whole school year.

wildpotato's avatar

I went through this a few years ago. Also, I used to work a job where all I did was fight with insurance companies to pay for patients’ procedures.

All the suggestions above are great, except that they are based on you not having any pre-existing conditions. The term “pre-existing condition” is way larger than you might think it is. If you take or have taken any perscription drugs at all within the last 5 or so years – allergy meds, say – you will probably be denied coverage for individual health insurance, because this counts as a pre-existing condition.

Usually the only thing you can get if you are in such a situation is COBRA, which is great because it just extends your current coverage (usually, with few or no alterations/additional restrictions) – but it is insanely expensive (think $400ish/month). It’s really just a bad situation with no way out. My eventual solution has been to make sure I’m either working full-time or going to school full-time at all times.

Also, keep a charm of St. Christopher with you. He is the patron saint of travelers, and also holds patronage against pestilence and toothache. He’s kept a friend of mine safe for years now.

ABoyNamedBoobs03's avatar

mine’s 825 or so. and the school I’m attending is rather expensive, and I don’t necessarily come from a wealthy family, long story short it’s not something I can really afford at the moment.

dalepetrie's avatar

Albeit the system in 1994 wasn’t nearly as fucked up as it is 15 years later, but it still sucked donkey balls. But basically, when I turned 23, moved out, lost my insurance, I signed up for an individual health plan. If you don’t have any chronic, pre-existing conditions (and most 23 year olds don’t), it’s actually possible to get a plan that isn’t that expensive. Now it will probably be a “major medical” plan where you have a high deductible. For example, I think for between $100 and $150 a month, a 23 year old could get on a plan through my insurer (Health Partners), which would allow you 3 doctor’s visits per year, and then has a $1,000 annual out of pocket deductible before anything else is covered. When I got laid off 6 months ago, it was too expensive to put my 7 year old son on my wife’s plan, so I enrolled him in an individual plan, which costs $97 a month (this is for up to age 18, which is why I think a 23 year old couldn’t be more than $150 a month). Now, he contracted an ear infection and the flu at the same time a few weeks back. I took him to the doctor, and like I said, there are 3 free visits a year. So, he wasn’t billed anything for the doctor visit, but he would have been billed about $250 if he had no insurance. In addition they took some labs to determine that he had influenza, that lab was $250 or so also. But that wasn’t covered…however, because when you have insurance, the insurance company “allows” a certain amount for each thing, so my liability was less than $40. And he got two drugs, tamiflu and zithromax, retail on these were over $400, those are covered. So, if he’d had no insurance, it would have been between $800 and $900…because I had him insured, it cost about $35. Find out what insurance companies operate in your area, or contact an agent, and see about signing up for an individual plan. There are probably a variety of plans you can choose from.

Also, many states have programs to keep people from becoming uninsured. In Minnesota, we have Minnesotacare and I believe that guarantees medical insurance for anyone who is uninsured for 60+ days. However, it’s probably best to just sign up for an individual plan, particularly if you have ANY pre-existing conditions, because if say you broke your wrist 2 years ago, and you go without insurance for 2 months, then your wrist fractures again, they could say that if you hadn’t broken your wrist in the first place, it wouldn’t ave broken again, and therefore it’s a pre-existing condition and they don’t have to cover it.

Bottom line, it varies so much from state to state, no one here is going to be able to tell you definitively, just call an insurance agent.

wildpotato's avatar

@dalepetrie Do you have a source for your note that most 23-year-olds don’t have pre-existing conditions? Not trying to argue with you whatsoever; I am just very curious. Where would we get this statistic, except from insurance companies themselves?

dalepetrie's avatar

@wildpotato – No, I don’t have a source, I actually didn’t even think to look it up. It’s just logic…the older people get the more conditions they develop, just makes sense. You just think of people in their early 20s as not having by and large the kinds of conditions that would preclude insurance from covering a condition. Or look at it this way, I don’t think most, meaning more than ½ of people alive, have chronic conditions (though these days it may be close), and the healthiest just statistically speaking are going to be the youngest. I probably wouldn’t bet that “most” 23 year olds don’t have pre-existing conditions, but I suspect it’s probably so jsut based on general knowledge of what insurance companies consider to be pre-existing conditions and how many people I know in their early 20s who have these types of conditions vs. who don’t, it just doesn’t seem likely that “most” 23 year olds DO have a pre-existing condition. I guess what I’m saying is I’m using logic and common sense, but if you have a source that says something opposite, that’s great, I’d love to know if that’s not hte case, because if most 23 year olds DO have pre-existing conditions, that means the problem with our system is worse than I thought.

ABoyNamedBoobs03's avatar

<=== horrible knee and back lol.

YARNLADY's avatar

@ABoyNamedBoobs03 There are often special circumstances where you can ask for a specific exception based on your ability to pay. In nearly every case where a person claims that they can’t afford coverage, there is relief is they only ask for it.

There are so many people who are eligible for reduced coverage, but they don’t bother to ask for it, I am appalled. Too many people are willing to settle for the “clerk told me I couldn’t” it makes me sick. No one should sit back and let themselves be taken advantage of. Do not let NO be the final word.

A perfect example is this lady.

Sarcasm's avatar

So wait. What happens at age 23?
Are you magically not allowed to be insured if you’re 23 and studying?

YARNLADY's avatar

@Sarcasm The provision in many insurance policies is to cover a student until they reach the age of 23, and then to no longer cover them. My Daughter In Law has that kind of provision in her policy. Her sons are covered, as long as they are enrolled in school, until they reach the age of 23, and then dumped – no longer covered.

dynamicduo's avatar

In America, I suppose you indeed have to rush and get a job so that you have insurance. You could find independent insurance, but it will be quite expensive.

It’s not a societal flaw, it’s a feature. It forces you to get a job instead of taking time off and enjoying your life/opening your mind. For a place like America which revolves around money and consumerism, this is ideal in keeping the machine working steadily and without incidence.

Here in Canada we don’t have this “feature”, if you break a foot you would go to the hospital and they’d mend it up, if you needed any other drugs from a pharmacy you would pay whatever the retail price is (and I believe there are ways to reduce that cost based on your conditions).

If you are still at school, your school could possibly offer health insurance, all the universities and colleges here in Canada enroll you into a mandatory drug and dental program that costs $160 per year [which you can get back when you show proof of insurance elsewhere]. Do schools in America not offer such health insurance?

Quagmire's avatar

My insurance covers my daughter while she’s a full time student, period. If that is not the case with you and you WILL loose coverage, let me propose something daring:

I consider health insurance to be SO important, I would recommend (and you’re NOT gonna like this) you get a full time job that pays for your insurance, then go to school at night!

So what if you’re healthy? You can get hit by a car, break an existing filling, become diabetic, need glasses… Then what? I read above about someone not getting a broken foot taken care of. But what if it was your pelvis? Or your back?

To me, the risk is WAY too great to go without insurance.

dalepetrie's avatar

@dynamicduo – I wouldn’t just assume it will be “quite expensive” to get independent insurance. Often times plans are tiered by age (I know this because having been in a position to pay the medical bills for a few of my past employers, I was the person setting all this up), because they KNOW it will cost them more to insure a person in their 60s than it will to insure a person in their 20s. Bigger companies often buy a one size fits all plan, but smaller employers usually opt for the age tiered plan, particularly if their workers are mostly younger, because that way they can get insurance that won’t cost either them or the employee too much. Like I described, the plan someone 23 years old could get through my insurer, probably without any sort of physical exam (as long as they can get the medical records from the past insurance), will be fairly cheap and fairly good (compared to other plans).

@Quagmire, good luck these days finding a job at all, much less one that even offers insurance anymore. If it happens, great, but seriously, the best course of action is to check with the parents’ current insurer, they will know. There are options, particularly if you have youth on your side, and if you have youth AND good health, it’s still fairly easy to get cheap insurance.

Quagmire's avatar

I would agree that the FIRST course of action is to check with your parent’s insurer and see what options they’ll give you, INCLUDING how much they’d charge YOU for insurance (assuming you have any source of income). Your parents might even talk to the Human Resources Department where they work (who WILL be familiar with the problem, I suspect). If you DO have a source of income, you should call some of the companies and see if you can afford some sort of PRACTICAL coverage. If you definitely can’t afford to pay, then I’d go with my full time job alternative, even if it meant I’d have to sweep floors.

Also, ask other students and see who else might be in the same boat. Find out what THEY do.

Good luck.

drClaw's avatar

Get a job you lazy bum…

Also Group Health has decent plans starting at around $50 per month. If that is too much I defer to my original statement (minus the lazy bum part).

cwilbur's avatar

If you’re a student, as noted, your school probably has a health plan. It may be more than you can comfortably afford, but any kind of accidental injury or trip to the hospital will be significantly more than you can comfortably afford.

Otherwise, yeah, you’re screwed. Your options are to find a job that offers health care benefits or to buy catastrophic health insurance now—that way, you’ll still be paying through the nose for an injury or trip to the hospital, but you’ll be covered for anything really major. Unless the insurance company decides to retroactively cancel your coverage.

It might be time to look into religion, so that you can just pray you don’t get sick. It works about as well as the US health insurance system.

westy81585's avatar

I have a job (soon to be two), and NEITHER of them has insurance worth a god damn.

Give me a public option.

wildpotato's avatar

Beware insurance companies that charge only $50/month – they often give you a really high yearly deductible (think ~$5,000) and charge you huge copays for even PCP visits (~$50/visit; ~$100 for a specialist visit). I’m not trying to impugn the company that drClaw mentioned, I just want to stress that you should check your policy very carefully if you settle on Group Health or a policy like the ones they offer.

westy81585's avatar

If you’re really worried about it, and can somehow afford the time, try working at UPS. FULL coverage, 100%. It’s as good/better than military coverage, and you get it automatically at 6 months.

I did this job my soph year of college, unfortunately i chose the night shift and it didn’t work out well for me. But I have seen many people manage school and UPS employment.

monsoon's avatar

@drClaw, I have two jobs (I’m the questions asker); I work 30 hours a week, besides the full-time school. I tried to go full-time on one of them, but the position was given to some one with “seniority” (my manager’s words).

So please, no judging.

monsoon's avatar

@dalepetrie, That’s. Awesome.

dalepetrie's avatar

Keep us posted if you find a suitable individual plan, I know it varies a lot from state to state.

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