Can I buy my own insurance if I graduate from college or can't stay on my parents plan?





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Published on May 13, 2014

If you've turned 26, you can't stay on your parent's health insurance plan any longer. And, if you've graduated from college, you may have lost the coverage offered to you as a student. In both of these cases, you're allowed to apply for new coverage in the individual insurance market under the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare).

The next annual open enrollment period -- when anyone can add or change their health coverage - is currently scheduled to begin on November 15 of this year.

But if you fall into this situation outside of the annual Open enrollment period, the Affordable Care Act deems these types of changes to be qualifying events that trigger a Special Enrollment Period. A Special Enrollment Period gives you 60 days from the date of your qualifying event to apply for a new health plan.

When you apply for your new coverage, it's a good idea to have some proof of your loss or change in coverage, such as a letter of termination from your university's insurance company or a copy of your coverage termination letter from your parent's health plan -- just in case your new insurance company requires it for verification.

As long as you apply for new coverage within 60-days, your application for new health coverage cannot be declined.

Be aware that all new major medical heath plans provide certain popular benefits with no out of pocket costs like:
- Dietary counseling and screenings for weight management
- Tobacco and alcohol screenings, counseling and help quitting
- And recommended mental health and illness prevention tests and screenings -- to name a few

If you miss your 60-day special enrollment period, you may not be able to enroll in a major medical health plan until the next Open Enrollment Period.

And, it's likely your coverage could not begin before January 1, of next year.

If you miss the 60-day deadline, we encourage you to look at short-term health coverage as an alternative, to gain some measure of protection until you're eligible to apply for major medical coverage again during the Open Enrollment Period. Short-term coverage does not meet the requirements of Obamacare, so you may still be subject to a tax penalty.
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