Traditionally, young, healthy individuals have sacrificed the option of buying health insurance for having more liquidity and ability to pay rent and bills. Between competing for a highly coveted job and planning for the future, young individuals feel that they don’t have the time or resources to waste on health insurance. And why should they, when individuals under 26 rarely visit the doctor and generally enjoy a healthy lifestyle. Well, the answer to that is the high probability of a serious accident or an illness that could add up to thousands of dollars in bills and drug costs. So if you are one of those that wants to be insured in case of a mishap, here are the top things you need to know about getting health insurance in post Obamacare world.

1) More options available for getting health insurance – With the rollout of Obamacare, individuals under the age of 26 have got more ways to get health insurance than they did before. Other than employer provided health insurance, young adults have the option of purchasing their own health insurance from the marketplace or being insured under their parent’s plan, even if they are married or are not a dependent. The option to stay covered under your parents’ plan is a new addition, and is definitely a smart move for young adults who want coverage at nominal prices.

2) Enrolling in your parent’s plan is easier than you know – If your parent’s plan covers dependents, then you can get health insurance coverage under their plan for marginal cost. This health insurance is valid even if you are married, living separate, still in school or not considered a dependent of your parents. The dependent coverage is usually paid through pretax money, which further reduces the cost. However, a catch of this coverage is that if you are married, your spouse will not be covered under this plan and you probably would be better off having a separate health plan in this case. Your children would also not be able to obtain coverage under your parent’s plan extension.

3) Catastrophic Health Plans are another viable option for people below 30 – If you are under 30 and do not want to pay huge premiums, catastrophic health plans are a new plan addition made available by Obamacare. These health plans keep you safe from the medical bills incurred for serious accidents and illnesses. These plans generally have lower premiums but higher deductibles, and also allow you 3 primary care visits in one full year. These plans also cover some preventive care benefits, making them the ideal choice for several young individuals.

4) When can you buy health insurance under the new law – With Obamacare, the process of shopping for health insurance benefits has drastically changed. Instead of a yearlong window, the Affordable Care Act now allows enrollees to purchase health insurance during the open enrollment periods. The first open enrollment period ran from October 1, 2013 to January 31, 2014. The second open enrollment period is approaching quickly and will begin on November 15th. The last day of enrollment will be February 15, 2015. Other than the open enrollment periods, there are special enrollment periods when you are eligible to buy health insurance. These special enrollment periods open when you have a life event, such as a marriage, birth of a child, loss of job, divorce etc. The special enrollment period also kicks in when you lose your existing coverage. Other than the open enrollment period, Medicaid enrollment is open throughout the year.

5) You will be penalized for not having health insurance – The ACA mandates that most individuals are required to have minimum health insurance coverage for themselves and their dependents or pay a penalty for breaking the law. Every year, this penalty amount will be increased to deliver a deeper impact on people not complying with the law. For 2015, the penalties are higher, and you will either have to pay $325 per uninsured in family or 2 percent of household income.

With penalties, multiple plans, conditional coverage and so many options to choose from, you will require guidance while choosing the right health plan for yourself. For some, continuing on parent’s plan will make more sense for now, but for some, a fully capable, subsidized health insurance plan from online marketplaces would do the trick. The above points should help you navigate through the process.

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