Health Insurance For College Grads

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.

Maya Shulman-Ment will soon graduate from college. But her parents worry because that means she'll lose her health insurance.

If not job materializes, Maya is still eligible to stay on her father's plan for three years under the Federal COBRA program. But it's expensive.

Nationally, COBRA averages $400 a month.

Still, Consumer Reports Health Editor Nancy Metcalf advises making every effort to get COBRA. In terms of protection, it is the best option.

"You'll have the same comprehensive coverage you always had, including things like prescription drugs and dental." said Metcalf. "But most important, if you have a pre-existing condition, it will be covered even when you change policies down the road."

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 suckered in by a low premium. In those plans, office visits to your primary doctor may not be covered.

Prescription drugs and other basics may not be covered either.

"When it comes to health insurance, you get what you pay for," said Metcalf.

Consumer Reports says graduates should also stay away from a third option-temporary insurance.

Metcalf says, "If anything serious happens, the company does not have to renew, and it will be hard to find coverage anywhere else."

John and Beth say if need be, they'll help Maya pay for insurance.

"You're never done. You're parents for life," said John Ment.

Consumer Reports says to check with your insurance company to see if there is a grace period after college graduation, or whether you have to sign up right away for COBRA or new insurance.


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