Having a child graduate from college is a big milestone. But it's a harsh reality that once grown children are out of school, they often lose their health coverage. How can you avoid a potentially dangerous gap in coverage? Consumer Reports has some tips for families.
Best, of course, is getting a job with benefits. If no job materializes, check whether your child is eligible to stay on your health plan for up to three years under the federal COBRA program. It's the best option in terms of protection, says Consumer Reports. You'll have the same comprehensive coverage you always had, including prescription drugs and dental. But most importantly, if you have a pre-existing condition, it will be covered even when you change policies down the road. The major drawback: COBRA is expensive, averaging $400 a month.
Consumer Reports says to check with your insurance company to see whether there is a grace period after college graduation, or whether you have to sign up right away for COBRA or new insurance.
If COBRA is not an option, you can purchase an individual plan. EHealthInsurance.com is an excellent Web site where you can compare prices and benefits. The most important thing is to make sure you are covered in case of a major medical disaster.
Don't be sucked in by a low premium. In those plans, office visits to your primary doctor might not be covered. Prescription drugs and other basics might not be covered either.
Consumer Reports says graduates should also stay away from a third option-temporary insurance. If anything serious happens, the company does not have to renew, and it will be hard to find coverage anywhere else.
Consumer Reports has come up with a list of seven things to watch out for before you sign up for health insurance. Go to www.consumerreports.org/health/insurance/health-insurance/7-signs-that-the-plan-is-junk/health-insurance-7-signs-the-plan-is-junk.htm.
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