Grad's Guide to Health Insurance

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Students who are graduating this month have nearly four months to either seek out their own health care coverage, or take a risk and wait until September to rejoin their parents' policies, as mandated by the new health care reform.

Passed in March, the law expands coverage to millions of Americans and provides free preventive care, help for uninsured Americans with pre-existing medical conditions and coverage for young people up to their 26th birthday through their parents' insurance, should they choose to do so.

However, the law will not be implemented until Sept. 23, and a survey by health-care advocacy group the Commonwealth Fund shows that despite various options, 34 percent of college graduates from 2006 onwards did not have health insurance in the year after their graduation.

Below is a list of companies and resources for navigating insurance policies.

Allstate (

The company offers a 529 College Savings Plan, which allows families to invest in health insurance coverage for their child over time. The plan's annual insurance rate does not change, which allows for more consistent fiscal planning. It also provides an option to not pay federal income tax on the money that the investment earns. As the donor on the account, the parent retains control of the plan even after the child turns 18.

Kaiser Permanente (

Kaiser Permanente's policies for college graduates will vary depending on a number of factors, including the student's medical history and where the currently live. Health care is specific to each individual, with certain information needed in order to process quotes.

CNN Health (

The website suggests knowing individual state plans for health insurance, particularly if the insurance company is required by state law to cover a student on his or her parent's policy even after they graduate.

The second suggestion is to consider COBRA Insurance. The plan is generally considered to be expensive, ranging from $250 to $2,500 for deductibles alone. After the individual meets the initial deductible payment, COBRA covers 80 percent of the next $5,000 spent on medical expenses.

However, if the student is healthy and is the only one who would be put on the insurance, the overall plan may be a worthwhile investment.

Tags: GRAD ISSUE 2010

Contact Katie Nelson at [email protected]

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