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Health insurance isn’t something most college students think about because for most, they have been under their parents their whole life. But health insurance companies waste no time kicking you off your parents’ insurance the day you graduate college. Unless you are lucky enough to graduate college and have a job set up with benefits, chances are you will be scrambling around for health insurance.

When you graduate, there are definitely more important things on your mind than health insurance. For example, finding a job and/or finding a house. But have health insurance is vital and can help you in the long run. Of course, health insurance can be expensive and out of reach for many graduates who have a massive amount of student loans.

Here are a few options for coverage.

Short Term Health Insurance. Short term health plans cover you for about 12 months while you are looking for a job with benefits or another health insurance plan. They are available through private health insurance carriers and are designed to be flexible, allowing you to pay month to month and cancel at any time. This type of coverage normally does not cover preexisting conditions and most cannot be renewed.

High Deductible Health Insurance. Though an individual health plan may be out of financial reach for most college graduates, high deductible plans have lower premiums. Though they may not cover preventive services and prescription drugs, but if something were to happen to you it is smarter to have any plan than no health insurance at all. A little secret: the higher the deductible, the lower the premium.

COBRA. The Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act is a federal law that requires health insurance providers to continue coverage for up to 36 months for those who have been dropped from plans. This doesn’t only include employees, but also includes spouses and adult children. Under COBRA, the health insurance carrier continues to offer the same price that was offered to the employer. However, the employee usually pays for part of the fee. Under COBRA, the employer does not contribute therefore you or your parents have to pay for the full price of the premium.

Some states, though, make it easier for students to obtain health insurance. In New Jersey, insurers are required to allow adult children to stay on their parents’ plans until the age of 30 if they have no dependents and are residents of the state.

No matter what you are forced to do to obtain health insurance, do it. Without student health insurance, you’re going to end up owing a lot more than just student loans.

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