Grads Have Limited Window To Get Health Insurance

By Tim Darragh, The Morning Call, Allentown, Pa.
McClatchy-Tribune Information Services

May 26--With college graduates facing a poor job market this summer, the prospects for finding affordable health care coverage are diminished.

But graduates can get one break -- this is only the second spring graduation season since the federal health care reform law was passed that they may qualify to return to their parents' health care plan.

But they can't delay. The Affordable Care Act allows graduates who are coming off their college health care coverage and would be otherwise uninsured to return under their parents' health coverage. However, graduates have to apply for coverage within 30 days of leaving their college plan.

New graduates who miss the deadline will have to wait until their parents' health insurers allow open enrollment, which generally happens in the winter.

According to Sharon Graham, a regional representative of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, more than 2.5 million young adults have gained health insurance coverage that they might not otherwise have had since this provision of the health care law went into effect.

"Now more young adults in this country can go on and live their lives with less worry about visiting the doctor when they get sick," she said.

That's some comfort for graduates, whose job prospects are near Great Recession lows. Unemployment and underemployment rates of young graduates have improved only slightly since their peak in 2010, the Economic Policy Institute says.

For young college graduates, the unemployment rate was 10.4 percent in 2010 and 9.4 percent over the last year, while the underemployment rate was 19.8 percent in 2010 and 19.1 percent over the last year, it said in a report issued this month.


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