There’s plenty to be excited about when you graduate college. The world is yours for the taking with endless opportunities and possibilities; you’ve got your new college degree and you’re ready for whatever life throws your way.
As exciting as it can be to be an adult when you graduate, it doesn’t take long for reality to set in sometimes. It can be lots of fun to be an adult, but what isn’t fun is paying bills. One of the biggest bills that you’ll have to pay for as an adult is your health insurance. Why? When you need medical testing done, need prescriptions filled or just for when you get sick, you’re absolutely going to need health insurance.
You might be thinking, do I really need it? The answer is a resounding yes. Healthcare costs (out-of-pocket costs and deductibles) have shot up by nearly 30% since 2015 and odds are very good they will continue to rise annually. Once you’ve taken a dive into looking for insurance, it can be difficult to pick a healthcare plan. It’s easy to do since there are a lot of companies with a lot of plans out there, each claiming to offer you the absolute best insurance.
If you’re looking at different healthcare policies, here’s a primer to help you understand what you’re looking at.
- Health maintenance organization plans or HMOs offer a list of providers to pick from, but you usually have to choose a primary care provider. This provider coordinates your health care needs and helps keep your costs at low and affordable rates. Many workplaces offer these to employees since they offer both copays and deductibles.
- Exclusive provider organization plans or EPOs give you providers to choose from, but the catch is that you have to use their networks to be covered. If you go out of network, your out-of-pocket costs may be alarmingly high.
- High deductible health care plans or HDHPs have high deductibles, which must be paid before medical services are covered. The good news is these plans are cheaper and if you’re on such a plan, you usually can qualify for a health savings account.
- Preferred provider organization plans or PPOs help customers keep their costs down by having pre-negotiated rates. You’ll have copays and deductibles with a PPO and you can visit a specialist directly, instead of having to get approved by another doctor first.
- For catastrophic events, you can buy a short-term health insurance plan, which can come in handy for coverage after major accidents or major illnesses.
Now that different types of health insurance have been established, it’s time to look into where you can get on a health insurance plan:
- Health insurance companies: One of the most obvious places to buy health insurance is to go directly to the health insurances companies. Agents can easily help you find an affordable plan that keeps you covered. You can either go through an agent, who represents one company or through a broker, who can offer policies from a variety of companies. Agents work great if you know which health insurance company you want. Brokers work better if you’re not sure and want to explore some options.
- Work: When you start your fancy new job, your new company should hand you a stack of forms that has some offers from different policies from the insurance company your company uses. For young employees, this is a quick and easy way to get a decent healthcare plan.
- Aggregators: Another way to find a healthcare plan these days to scour the Internet. Many websites online are essentially insurance aggregators, who can show you all kinds of different health insurance plans. If you’re used to using aggregators for things like travel or car shopping, think of these sites as sort of the same thing, but for health insurance.
Having health insurance is of the utmost importance and by taking time to do some research, you’ll find a great plan that gives you the full coverage you need. This is one of those really important things in life you’ll have to buy and it’s important to do it right.