Short term insurance offers avenue for grads

Keith Bailey, 22, a senior engineering student from Pittsburgh, Penn., has had Type 1 diabetes mellitus since he was nine.

“My parents found out when I passed out at school. My blood glucose level was extremely low and I was diagnosed with juvenile diabetes.”

After 13 years of insulin shots and frequent doctor visits, Keith’s health insurance cut him off his parents’ plan.

“To our understanding, I was insured as long as I was a full time student, but the insurance company didn’t see it that way,” said Bailey, “22, is the cut-off.”

Like Keith, most undergraduate students are dependents on their parent’s insurance plan. However, there are some major limitations students should know about.

If students have an insurance card, that card entitles them to discounts on health care at participating providers. However, most doctors only participate in local, not out-of-state, plans.

“When I first came to FAM from Pennsylvania, it was hard to find a doctor that would take my insurance,” said Bailey. “At first I would just go to the clinic on campus, but my parents wanted to make sure I had a steady doctor.”

Most out-of-state students give up and usually make all of their medical appointments around school holidays.

Jessica Lace, 20, a sophomore english student from Birmingham, Ala. said, “It’s just easier that way. Trying to hunt down a local physician that will take my insurance is a hassle. I’d rather wait until I go home.”

Almost all insurance companies end coverage once a student graduates from college or have a 22 or 23 age limit, but it depends on the insurance company and the state.

The best way to avoid a situation like Bailey’s is to call and ask the company about coverage.

Students can check coverage for special circumstances. If a student studies abroad, takes an extended break or participates in a co-op work program, the insurance company may drop the coverage because students do not meet the strict criteria of being a “full-time” student.

While Bailey’s family was working to put him back on their plan, his father lost his job. With the loss went the family’s health insurance. But the Bailey said they have survived the cut.

“My mom is still working, so my family is good,” Bailey said. “I’m graduating in December so I will be able to provide for myself.”

Graduates who have not found a job, or have recently been hired but are still waiting for employer-sponsored health insurance to take effect, can help protect themselves both financially and medically with NextStudent short-term health insurance.

This customizable health insurance program offers a broad choice of individual health insurance plans designed specifically to cover recent graduates and others in periods of transition.

“In this economy and job market, especially new grads are going to have a hard time getting employer-sponsored health insurance,” said Jack Wallace, NextStudent executive vice president. “We want to make sure that these graduates have affordable access to the health coverage they need.”