The Brown Daily Herald has a piece about a serious issue facing college graduates, namely the students’ loss of health insurance as they graduate and subsequently lose coverage under their school health insurance and, often, their parent’s insurance policies as well:
“Many colleges and universities require health insurance,” Jeanne Hebert, director of the University’s Office of Insurance and Risk, told The Herald in an e-mail. “If students are faced with unexpected medical expenses, they may not be able to continue their enrollment in college.”
After graduation, students no longer have access to SHIP, and most are barred from their parents’ policies when they turn 22 or cease to be full-time students. Some, like Rastelli, apply for jobs with firms that provide insurance. Others enter graduate programs, many of which have policies similar to Brown’s. But those who don’t receive insurance, and have no mandate to purchase it, face a difficult choice.
As the article notes in its last paragraph, Americorps offers a comprehensive health care plan, although it doesn’t include coverage for preexisting conditions. It’s not always the best insurance in the world – our coverage was so skimpy when I was serving my first year that we called it the ginseng and band-aid plan – but it’s better than nothing. I do know of at least one Americorps member in my group who was staying on a second year partly because of the health plan (and child care subsidies) that Americorps offers.
This is a real challenge for 20-somethings. Although health care plans can be cheap for healthy graduates, those with preexisting conditions or disabilities can face premiums that far outstrip the weight load of their fresh-out-of-grad-school earnings.
Alas, Americorps isn’t much help in these cases, but for the otherwise healthy college grad, it’s an option that can give you a year or two of breathing room while you suss out your options, decide what you’re going to do and build up your resume/experience, which will hopefully improve your chances of landing a benefits-loaded job or one that pays well enough to afford your own plan.