Congratulations! You made it, graduate! The last four (or five … or six) years were hard. But you studied, did your homework, and now you’ve graduated!
Looking back from my lofty position as an alumna, I almost wish there had been classes on adult life after college. For example, “How to get a loan and buy a used car,” “Pros/cons of apartment-living vs. buying a house,” “Plants vs. pets: A comprehensive guide to caring for things other than yourself,” or even “Insurance: All the kinds you didn’t know you needed.”
So today, we’re going to give you a cheat sheet on health insurance: the “what you wish they would have told you” version. The good news is that you won’t need financial assistance for this course. Read on!
What is it? Health insurance covers your doctors’ bills when you’re sick or in need of medical assistance.
Do you need it? Yes.
- Because you’re not invincible and you’re going to get sick or need medical assistance.
- Because you’re a very poor post-graduate adult who can barely afford ramen noodles.
- Because the government passed a law called the Affordable Care Act back in 2010 that says it’s time for everyone to have access to affordable health care.
When can I get it?
The open enrollment period for 2015 begins Nov. 15, 2014, and ends Feb. 15, 2015. During this time, you have the opportunity to shop around for health care coverage and find the best plan to suit your needs.
What are my options?
- If you’re under 26 years old:
- You can stay on your parents’ health insurance, if their plan allows it and they’re willing to let you. If this option is available to you, take it!
- Short-term plan: The WPS Alternative Choice plan is a short-term plan that provides great coverage for your medical expenses and will get you through until the next open enrollment. You can choose coverage periods from 30 to 364 days. Deductibles range from $1,000 to $10,000 and you get comprehensive coverage—check out our brochure! Read more about this plan in our recent blog post.
- Find a job that offers health insurance.
Common terms: Click on the link for even more common health insurance terms.
- Deductible: the amount of money you must pay each year to cover eligible medical expenses before your insurance policy starts paying.
- Coinsurance: the amount you pay to share the cost of covered services after any copayment and after your deductible has been paid. The coinsurance rate is usually a percentage. For example, if the insurance company pays 80% of the claim, you pay 20%.
- Copayment: one of the ways you share in your medical costs. You pay a specific dollar amount for certain medical expenses (e.g., $10 for every visit to the doctor), while your insurance company pays the rest after you have met your deductible and subject to any coinsurance.
- Out-of-pocket maximum: the most money you will pay during a year for coverage. It includes deductibles, copayments, and coinsurance, but is in addition to your regular premiums. Beyond this amount, the insurance company will pay all expenses for the remainder of the year.
- In-network provider: a health care professional, hospital, or pharmacy that is part of a health plan’s network of preferred providers. You will generally pay less for services received from in-network providers because they have negotiated a discount for their services in exchange for the insurance company sending more patients their way.
- Individual health insurance: health insurance plans purchased by individuals to cover themselves and their families. Different from group plans, which are offered by employers to cover their employees.
Thank you for joining us today in this crash course on health insurance! We hope you learned some valuable things. Check out our blog for more great health care, insurance, and wellness posts. Good luck out there!