Transitions from both high school and college make it necessary to evaluate your health insurance. It can be confusing to college students and young adults. Today, new research indicates that finding affordable health insurance appears to be a large and immediate problem.
We are pleased to see AgileHealthInsurance.com investing in research that helps to demonstrate the challenges facing college students and new graduates in finding affordable health insurance. The results of a nationwide poll revealed the extent to which affordable coverage is a challenge for college students and grads this time of year. With the advent of summer, maintaining affordable health insurance is a major concern for college students who lack year-round coverage through their school or coverage under their parents’ health plan. Likewise, recent college graduates without a job can face a similar predicament.
The poll asked, “For any college students or recent grads in your family, is finding affordable health insurance a challenge?” Respondents had the option of selecting one of the following answers: “Yes, high premiums make it hard,” “Yes, high out-of-pocket costs make it hard,” “Yes, it is hard to find for other reasons,” “No, finding affordable insurance isn’t hard,” or “My family doesn’t have a student or grad.”
Of poll respondents with a college student or recent graduate in the family, 72 percent indicated that finding affordable coverage was difficult. Premiums were the most common impediment to affordability, with 40 percent of student/graduate families answering “Yes, high premiums make it hard.” Half as many (20 percent) attributed affordability problems to high out-of-pocket costs. Another 12 percent of the student/graduate families had other unspecified reasons that health insurance affordability was a problem.
“These ‘unspecified problems’ can include an ineligibility for premium subsidies on exchange health plans due to the student’s tax return status,” said John Fees, co-founder of GradGuard, an authority on protecting the investment of college students and their families. “If a student is claimed by his or her parents as a dependent, then the parents’ household income, including but not limited to the student’s income, decides the student’s eligibility for premium subsidies under the Affordable Care Act.”
“We were very alarmed to learn of the high percentage of students and graduates having a hard time finding affordable health care coverage,” said Bruce Telkamp, founder and CEO of AgileHealthInsurance.com. “While this is a big concern, in most cases we see it as a consumer education problem rather than a product availability problem. Short-term health insurance plans are available to students in about four dozen states, and their inexpensive premiums can satisfy the affordability needs of most students. Additionally, the vast majority of students and graduates have no trouble meeting the application requirements to obtain coverage.”
It is important to note that not all college students and graduates experienced problems with finding affordable health coverage; 28 percent indicated that finding affordable health insurance was not difficult for their students or recent graduates. For students under age 26 whose parents have health insurance coverage, there is the option to join their parents’ health plans. Additionally, students attending colleges where health coverage is required and paid for through a student fee may by able to use financial aid or a student loan to cover the fee.
“Unfortunately many college students and new graduates are under great financial stress due to the cost of college and student loan payments, but they should not be tempted to see medical coverage as a non-essential luxury,” Fees said. “Given this situation, students and parents will benefit from understanding the practical value of short-term health plans given their inexpensive price point, broad benefits and wide doctor coverage which can be a feasible option to keeping this group from joining the ranks of the uninsured.”
Results are based on 2,626 responses to a nationwide survey conducted from June 2, 2017, to June 4, 2017. Demographic inferencing and methodology to acquire survey respondents who approximate national statistics on age, gender, income and region was performed by Google-administered technology. Race, education and health insurance status were not examined. Margin of error across all survey responses (including “My family doesn’t have a student or grad”) is estimated at +1.7 percent/-1.8 percent.
The survey methodology and complete findings can be reviewed in the AgileHealthInsurance.com report, “Poll: 72% of College Students & Recent Grads Have Challenges Finding Affordable Health Insurance.”