under 25 health insurance options
January 30, 2012 10:01 AM   Subscribe

I am under 25 and have no health insurance. My mom was recently laid off so she has no insurance either. What are my options?

I just graduated from university (graduation coincided with when my mom was laid off) and now neither of us have health insurance. She is less worried but I am.

I think she's been avoiding the issue because we're also dealing with financial problems and she might be afraid that we can't purchase it. I believe she is under 65 so she wouldn't be eligible for Medicaid yet. I'd like to know what's out there for the two of us.

I am living in the state of Maryland.
posted by bluelight to Health & Fitness (22 answers total)
Your mom should be able to get Cobra insurance.

You should get a job that provides health insurance, ASAP.
posted by empath at 10:05 AM on January 30, 2012

If you don't have any health problems, you can probably get an individual policy for not a ton of $$, even if you're not working for a company that provides it. Have you priced any plans? Your mother's case is a bit more complicated due to her age, even if she's in robust health.

Many, many people (myself included) are self-employed and pay for their own health insurance. I started with Kaiser 20 years ago and my rate isn't terrible.
posted by Ideefixe at 10:11 AM on January 30, 2012 [1 favorite]

Surprisingly, content farm about.com seems to have a pretty decent page on getting insurance in Maryland here.

Possibly you or your mom qualifies for this program or something similar?
posted by Wretch729 at 10:16 AM on January 30, 2012 [1 favorite]

I live in Maryland now and am uninsured...looking for jobs and not worrying about it for now. When I was in your situation before - I had a job but no benefits - I was living in NC and got a basic blue cross blue shield plan. If you're female they will most likely try to stick you with a maternity plan but I made them take it off mine.
posted by fromageball at 10:16 AM on January 30, 2012

I looked on eHealthInsurance, plugging in dummy zip codes and guessing at your gender, and found several plans as low as $43/mo for you and $114/mo for her. That's for catastrophic plans; you can expect to pay double or triple that for "real" health insurance, and like I said these are only guesses. But there are options out there that will keep you from being completely SOL and which are marginally affordable.
posted by KathrynT at 10:19 AM on January 30, 2012

Until you get a job with benefits, a high-deductible, low-premium health insurance plan might be a good deal for you, assuming that you are healthy now. Try Aetna (my current insurer). I'm not a big fan of this high-deductible stuff but it is better than no insurance at all, and some plans cover preventive care (annual physicals, annual gyno visits) 100%.

Mom should try for COBRA coverage as mentioned above. Problem is, even the group premiums can be very high. Massachusetts used to assist with health insurance premiums for the unemployed if you were below a certain income, not sure if Maryland has a similar option.

Might you be eligible for Medicaid? The link refers people to their local Social Services office which would be a good resource for both you and Mom.
posted by Currer Belfry at 10:22 AM on January 30, 2012

Response by poster: I am female.

Additional question: if I don't have health insurance, should I not even consider traveling out of the country?

posted by bluelight at 10:24 AM on January 30, 2012

you might actually be better off travelling out of the country; I've heard anecdotes where out-of-pocket costs for foreigners in countries with national healthcare are less than with-insurance costs in the US.

Maryland has a "family health plan" that also benefits individuals with low-wage jobs (which is most 25-year-olds now days).

Also, empath, "get a job" is really not a helpful thing to say to somebody.
posted by Jon_Evil at 10:38 AM on January 30, 2012 [1 favorite]

HealthCare Access Maryland looks like a great resource.
posted by Wordwoman at 10:38 AM on January 30, 2012

Maryland has a program for low-income adults that provides coverage for primary care services, prescription drugs, and limited coverage for medical emergencies--see here. You can't make more than 116% of the federal poverty level, which is about $12,500 per year, but if your mom lost her job I assume she'd qualify. Might be worth calling the number on that page (1-800-226-2142) to get more information and an application; it's not quite the same amount of coverage as you'd get through employer insurance but it's certainly better than nothing!

(The MHIP plan that Jon_Evil linked to looks like the state high-risk pool, which you usually only qualify for if you've been turned down by other insurance companies or have a health condition that makes you uninsurable. It's undoubtably better insurance than the Primary Adult Care program but it will cost more and you may have to jump through some hoops in order to qualify, like applying for insurance elsewhere.)
posted by iminurmefi at 10:45 AM on January 30, 2012

When I was in a similar situation I went for the catastrophic coverage (blue cross california) with a huge deductible... I felt that somebody in my family would cough up 3 grand if I'd had major head trauma and needed brain surgery, or developed cancer.... and it would cap something like appendicitis at something I could afford to pay back... ALSO- I had assumed I would need to pay everything up to the deductible, but when I did go to the docs I got the insurance negotiated rate and relatively cheap prescriptions.
posted by misspony at 10:47 AM on January 30, 2012

This was a great resource but I am not sure they go back online again: http://www.pickhealthinsurance.com/
posted by yoyo_nyc at 10:54 AM on January 30, 2012

Also, empath, "get a job" is really not a helpful thing to say to somebody.

It's a possible solution to not having health insurance after getting out of school. The OP didn't mention any reason why they couldn't work. Isn't that what most people do? I don't think as an under-25 year old, it's worth the effort of buying health insurance on your own. Just get health insurance through whatever job you get.

The answer for someone getting laid off is to get COBRA insurance.
posted by empath at 11:09 AM on January 30, 2012

Additional question: if I don't have health insurance, should I not even consider traveling out of the country?

Depending on the country, you're way better off getting sick overseas.
posted by empath at 11:10 AM on January 30, 2012

Response by poster: On the job suggestion: I do think it is a good suggestion. I am currently employed, however, it is an internship with no benefits. Due to certain circumstances (mostly related to family and the fact that I do not have a car) this internship was the best option for me.

I'll research more on out-of-country health expenses...however any elaboration on this would be greatly helpful! I might hold off getting insurance till after I get back to the U.S. (I may be traveling in August of this year)
posted by bluelight at 11:20 AM on January 30, 2012

Lots of US health insurance isn't valid out of the country anyway, so I don't think it should really be a consideration at all. If you're concerned about needing health care overseas, the thing to do is to buy a travel health insurance policy for the duration of your trip - they're usually quite inexpensive, especially for someone your age.
posted by strangely stunted trees at 11:21 AM on January 30, 2012 [2 favorites]

I am currently employed, however, it is an internship with no benefits.

Did you talk to HR? You're most likely not the first intern they've hired that needs to buy health insurance.
posted by empath at 11:35 AM on January 30, 2012

By the way, Medicare and Medicaid are not the same thing. Medicare is for people 65 and older, regardless of income; in contrast, Medicaid is for people of any age who are low-income. Some older people need both.
posted by mareli at 12:03 PM on January 30, 2012

Two weeks after our wedding, my husband (age 21) had appendicitus and needed immediate surgery. Please, please do not go without some major medical - even straightforward problems, like an appendectomy will cost thousands of dollars. A car accident with brain injury is many, many times higher. Plus if you have insurance, you will get the negotiated rates from the doctor, even if you are paying it yourself because you have such a high deductible. That can cut your medical costs in half (or even more!).
posted by metahawk at 1:16 PM on January 30, 2012

I relied on clinics with sliding-fee scales for years when I was in this situation. Not saying that it's ideal, but they're out there.
posted by sugarbomb at 2:08 PM on January 30, 2012

I have posted this link several times, and it makes me sad that there's such a need for it, but anyway, enough of the philosophizing about the state of the world:

There is a nonprofit called Needymeds whose mission is to direct people to low- or no-cost sources of medication and health care. The site has a searchable database of free/low-cost/sliding-scale clinics nationwide, and the database includes info on each clinic's hours, location, cost, and services.
posted by virago at 2:32 PM on January 30, 2012 [1 favorite]

I would suggest getting a high deductible plan, just in case you get hit by a bus. It's also helpful not to have a major gap in coverage, most importantly if you have ever gone to the doctor, taken medicine or have any pre-existing conditions. I've dealt with the "health insurance abroad" issue a lot and if you're going for less than 90 consecutive days there is a good chance an individual policy will cover you. Check first, and make sure it's in writing though!
posted by Bunglegirl at 8:30 PM on January 30, 2012

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