Please help me find affordable individual health insurance as a recent college graduate who is unemployed.
September 18, 2006 3:42 PM   Subscribe

I need affordable individual health insurance not merely a discount health plan - where do I get it?

I recently graduated from college, where I was enrolled under the college's student health insurance. I have not yet found employment, but I need health insurance. I do not like those gimmicky "discount" health plans. I want real health insurance - specifically one that provides for individuals, not for family or small businesses health insurance.

I am willing to pay a co-pay but do not want any deductibles if possible. I also would like to have prescription medicine discounts. My budget for health insurance is preferably around $200 to $250 per month - is this too little to get the type of plan I'm looking for?

I am totally lost in the plethora of sites that pop up when I enter relevant search terms. Please help! I appreciate insight from anyone who's gone through this as I'm sure many have.
posted by orangeshoe to Health & Fitness (21 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
Where do you live? NY has a great program, look at your state's dept of health website and see if there is info there.
posted by saffry at 3:44 PM on September 18, 2006

$200-$250 sounds WAY low to me.
When I had an individual plan through Blue Cross/Blue Shield, I was paying about $450/month for a good plan.

Also, shouldn't you be eligible for COBRA? (not that that's going to reduce costs much, but best that you have no gaps in your coverage)
posted by zerokey at 3:57 PM on September 18, 2006

I don't know that a student health plan falls under COBRA, zerokey -- COBRA's designed to continue an employer's group coverage. But that raises a good point, orangeshoe: can you ask your college health service (or plan administrator) for advice as to where to go next? Surely you're not the only recent grad who doesn't yet have a job with insurance benefits.
posted by scody at 4:03 PM on September 18, 2006

Um, COBRA applies to those who lose coverage because of termaintion of employment, divorce, being too old to be covered under their parents' coverage, and things like that. It doesn't apply to leaving college.

It really depends on where you live. Your profile says Mississippi -- is that still where you live, and where you will be living?

$200 to $250 per month sounds low to me, especially if you expect not to have a deductible. Here in Texas, I pay over $400 a month for coverage with a huge deductible. I also am middle-aged with a pre-existing condition. Obviously, it depends on your individual circumstances.
posted by Robert Angelo at 4:05 PM on September 18, 2006

I didn't realize that COBRA didn't apply here. I just looked it up.
Check with the school, from what I'm reading, many colleges offer COBRA-like extensions after graduation.
posted by zerokey at 4:13 PM on September 18, 2006

The poster's profile indicates she's in Mississippi.

I don't know about obtaining private individual health insurance, but it might widen your choices if you accepted some level of deductible (say $200?). Remember that insurance is meant to avoid catastrophic expenses, not routine expenses. Health insurance is meant to keep you from bankruptcy when you break your leg badly, or develop cancer or another illness that requires expensive, ongoing care. It's important to keep up your insurance, because if you develop cancer (or other expensive condition) when you are not covered by insurance, it is very difficult to get covered. So you are very prudent to be focused on keeping up your coverage! But don't think of insurance as a way for every check-up to be free. Even though this sucks, expect to pay for your routine care on top of paying your insurance premiums.
posted by LobsterMitten at 4:15 PM on September 18, 2006

Also, although you have probably already looked into this: you may be able to get coverage under your parent's health plan until you are 24. Some plans allow this.
posted by LobsterMitten at 4:19 PM on September 18, 2006

Response by poster: I'm beyond 24 and was covered under my parent's along with my college's inusrance plans until I turned 24.

I guess I can budge on the deductible thing - I just really want to know that I am not caught in a catastrophic situation with no health insurance.
posted by orangeshoe at 4:25 PM on September 18, 2006

I don't know anything about it, but I have friends who swear by the Freelancers Union. Have you actually verified that your university won't extend your health insurance? Some will let you extend coverage for a while, although it may be too late, now that you've graduated. Good luck - health insurance is a freaking crime in this country! I was non-covered for years and it's really stressful not to be. (And for a college age student in good health, $250 should be reasonable for basic HMO/PPO type coverage, IMHO.)
posted by DenOfSizer at 4:27 PM on September 18, 2006

Response by poster: I agree DenOfSizer - thanks for your input.
posted by orangeshoe at 4:34 PM on September 18, 2006

chiming back in to ask if you've tried getting a quote through eHealthInsurance? It's at least a place to start to get a general idea of the plans available in your area within your budget.
posted by scody at 4:39 PM on September 18, 2006

If you can't find anything in your price range, you might consider working part time for a company that offers health insurance to its part time employees.
posted by leapingsheep at 5:17 PM on September 18, 2006

I just really want to know that I am not caught in a catastrophic situation with no health insurance.

Then you're in luck! That's exactly what high-deductible insurance plans are for.

Remember that insurance is meant to avoid catastrophic expenses, not routine expenses.

Not true at all. That's what catastrophic insurance is meant to cover. For $400/month I would expect minimal co-pays and an extremely low deductible, assuming no pre-existing conditions.

I really think the original poster might need to do some math and figure out what a reasonable deductible would be and what she expects out of the coverage. If you're really only worried about getting stuck with a 35K hospital bill, it doesn't make sense to pay $400/month to avoid a $4000 annual deductible.

In California I bought an individual Blue Shield plan a few years ago that had a 5K deductible, two office visits a year covered, a reasonable co-pay on prescriptions, and access to the negotiated rates. Over the three years that this covered me, I had a fairly serious ankle injury and a few visits to regular doctors for cough and cold types of things. I payed about $2000 out of pocket. I was paying $70/month for the plan. Even if I could have had a no-deductible plan for even another $50/month (unlikely) I would have just about broken even for medical expenses over that period.

Have you just called Blue Cross/Blue Shield yet? I suspect you'll find a plan you are happy with, especially if you are expecting to get coverage in the forseeable future through an employer.
posted by mzurer at 5:21 PM on September 18, 2006

Don't bother with Freelancers Union if you're not in the NYC area.
posted by chef_boyardee at 5:34 PM on September 18, 2006

Response by poster: chef_boyardee - I just realized that myself. :)
posted by orangeshoe at 5:42 PM on September 18, 2006

(sorry about that, I didn't realize it either.)
posted by DenOfSizer at 6:18 PM on September 18, 2006

Blue Cross offers Tonik, a healthcare plan for the young and healthy that isn't tied to work, school, or relatives. Check it out. Prices and plan descriptions will vary by location, I'm sure, so I can't offer specifics. I do know they specifically don't cover pregnancy.
posted by nadise at 6:33 PM on September 18, 2006

Tonik appears to only be covering California, Colorado, and Nevada, sadly.
posted by Darke at 7:27 PM on September 18, 2006

You could check into Humana. It's offered in MS and it's really good insurance, but I don't know what they charge.
posted by Mr. Gunn at 10:39 PM on September 18, 2006

Best answer: Many university alumni associations offer "affordable" coverage as a service to their graduates, including Mississippi State and the University of Mississippi. If your school isn't on the list I linked, check with your alumni association to find out if they participate in a different program.
posted by junkbox at 9:11 AM on September 19, 2006 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Although I didn't go to school in Mississipp (I actually no longer live there and should update my profile), my college indeed offered affordable coverage - more affordable than I even anticipated! In fact I got two months worth of temporary health insurance with great benefits for little more than I expected to spend on one month's worth.

Thank you junkbox - I would never have thought of doing that on my own.
posted by orangeshoe at 4:47 PM on September 20, 2006

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