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A Young Person’s Guide to Health Insurance

Posted by Taysia Holmes on Jun 15, 2017 5:48:03 PM

Whether you’re a recent college grad, you've been out on your own for a while, or you’re still living at your mama's house, the law is the same: you must have health coverage or face a penalty.

For those of us of the 20- or 30-something persuasion, health insurance seems pretty low on our priority list (especially when ramen cups are still a staple). Not to mention insurance is confusing! Co-pays, deductibles, co-insurance, premiums. It’s like learning another language.

With all the confusion and low perceived reward ($500 a month to go to the doctor once a year? No thanks), it’s no wonder young people are opting out of insurance. This opt-out is definitely a contributor to the implosion of Obamacare.

What makes insurance work is having more young and healthy people than elderly or sick people. When everyone pays into the same pot, the young and healthy subsidize the old and sick. With Obamacare, another subsidized class is added: the poor. So now the health care of sick, elderly, AND poor people depends on having enough young, healthy people to cover the costs. And they thought by making it mandatory, they’d get enough people in the pool to make it affordable.

News flash, politicians: we can’t afford it either! Millennials are the poorest generation due to stagnant wages, a slow economy, and the depreciation of the college degree all while being given unfettered access to huge amounts of student loans (and depending on the type of loan, they can never be discharged, even if you DIE).

Some parents will keep their children on their insurance until 26, but the rest of us are left to find a job that offers benefits. Have you been job hunting lately?? If you’re fresh out of college, you may have encountered the ever-frustrating “need experience to get a job, need a job to have experience” paradox that plagues so many Millennials.

Since a lot of jobs you may get right out of college don’t offer benefits, you might have to get creative to avoid a big penalty. 

Fork over the money for an individually-purchased health insurance plan. This could get confusing. Most people don’t speak insurance-ese so they could enroll in a plan that doesn’t fit their needs. My suggestion: get a translator. Seriously, licensed agents know their stuff (it’s kinda their job).

Qualify for a government subsidy. If you meet the income requirements, you could get a monthly subsidy to help cover the costs of your premiums. But then there’s a bunch of paperwork you have to submit. See agent suggestion above.

Get spiritual. Who doesn’t love a loophole? Did you know that there are health plans out there that are inexpensive, offer year-round enrollment, and get you out of that pesky penalty? And the only requirement for a lot of them is that you belong to a religion! Better start going to church again.

So just because you couldn't get health coverage from you job (or you're still on the prowl) doesn't mean that you'll have to pay a hug penalty. You have options -- confusing options, but options nonetheless.