Earlier this week NPR did a Q&A for clarifications on the ACA and there were a couple regarding college and graduate students, which caught my ear for sure. Apparently, it has been confirmed that university-provided student health insurance counts as having health insurance for the ACA – I didn’t know that was a question at all, but it’s good to know. I also found out that if you earn so little money that you don’t have to file income taxes ($9,750 for a single person under 65) you are exempt from the requirement to have health insurance.
That got me thinking about students and health insurance more generally, because during college I didn’t earn enough money to have to file taxes and I’m sure there are plenty of grad students in that situation as well. However, both my college and my grad school required students to have health insurance, so there was no option to go without it (except in the summers, maybe). Our grad school provides student health insurance for us (we don’t pay any premiums!) and it’s actually pretty good as far as I can tell.
I have always had health insurance.
Childhood through College: I was covered through my dad’s employer’s plan all the way up through college.
Post-bac: During the year I worked for the NIH my employer provided health insurance.
Grad school, first year: When I went to back to school, I opted to go back on my parents’ plan – my university’s plan didn’t have dental and eye coverage while my dad’s plan did.
Grad school, second year and beyond: I switched to my university’s plan because I knew that when we got married later in my second year I would no longer be eligible to be on my parents’ plan. However, my parents didn’t receive/understand/process that I didn’t need to be on their plan any longer and I actually was double-covered that year up until our wedding.
When I was transitioning from my post-bac job to grad school, I knew I wanted to take a little vacation before orientation. I decided to work until August 1 (which happened to be a Friday) so that I would be covered by that health insurance through August, overlapping slightly with my parents’ health insurance, which I think kicked in when orientation started. If I hadn’t been able to work that long, I would have bought COBRA.
I really can’t imagine being without some kind of health insurance plan. My mom used to be an insurance agent so I have been brainwashed into having a fear of being without a high amount of all appropriate types of coverage! I would definitely be afraid of something catastrophic happening during the lapse in coverage.
Have you ever gone without health insurance? Did your college/university require students to have health insurance? How have you handled transitions between employer-provided plans?
photo from Free Digital Photos