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zoberg

Taking a Year Off--Health Insurance

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So, my parents are on edge about my rejections from graduate school. If I'm not accepted, I will no longer have health insurance, because I will no longer be a student.

For those of you intending to take the year off and re-apply next winter--what will you do about health insurance? Just suck it up and pay it?

My parents want me to transfer to a state school and just take inane classes next year, because that will be cheaper than paying health insurance. Thing is... this sounds really, really bad to me.

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Pay it, or get a job that offers it. Your parents may also be wrong to assume that classes will be cheaper. Depending on your age, gender, and preexisting conditions, you may be able to get individual health insurance quite cheaply (mine is well under $200/month). But you should start looking at that now, because if you have any gap in coverage the price goes up.

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You would have to find a job that offers health insurance. Group insurance is always better than individual health insurance. For example, you are less likely to be denied coverage because something could be a "preexisting condition."

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I'm in the middle of my year off and I don't have any health insurance. It's an option, I guess.

Also, would you really get insurance just by taking classes at a state school? Everywhere I know of doesn't provide health benefits unless you're a degree-seeking student.

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So, my parents are on edge about my rejections from graduate school. If I'm not accepted, I will no longer have health insurance, because I will no longer be a student.

For those of you intending to take the year off and re-apply next winter--what will you do about health insurance? Just suck it up and pay it?

My parents want me to transfer to a state school and just take inane classes next year, because that will be cheaper than paying health insurance. Thing is... this sounds really, really bad to me.

You should ask whichever parent has the job w/ insurance to ask about COBRA coverage for you. When I was out of school for a while, I believe I was still able to be covered by my folk's insurance for another nine months or so, with just slightly higher premiums. This could help bridge the gap between school and finding yourself a steady job w/ health insurance of your own.

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yeah, staying in school just for health insurance has gotta be the most expensive idea for getting health insurance i've ever heard of.

some companies offer temporary insurance policies with basically just 'emergency coverage' for up to 6 months. i did that myself. i think i got a 6 month plan for a total of $300. but then after the 6 months, you have to wait another 2-3 months before you can renew it again. its really only supposed to be temporary.

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OP, another consideration is your family's finances. If you have a catastrophic accident, would they be able to cover your deductible? If the answer is yes, and you are in good health, individual insurance might work for you. You can agree to a high deductible to get a low premium and low copays that you can afford to pay yourself with any kind of job. Essentially, you bet that you will only need routine care. If you are seriously injured, your parents back you up financially (or you take on some debt). If they were willing to keep paying to have you on their insurance as a student (even with the company covering most of it, you still pay more for each dependent), or cover your tuition, then ask if they would take the money they save on their premium and save it in case you have to pay your deductible.

NB: None of this will work if you have serious pre-existing conditions. This is a good bet only for the young and those with very low health risks.

BUT, whatever you do, please DON'T let your insurance lapse while you figure it out. Apply for COBRA (under which your parents pick up the full tab for covering you through their insurance) if you must, but do not go without insurance. It's just not a good idea. Even if you are healthy enough to bet against a high deductible - if something happens to you, once you or your parents have paid that $2000 or $5000, then the rest of your care will be covered. Whereas if you have no insurance and have to spend a long time in the hospital, you can put yourself or your parents into debt for the rest of their lives.

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Do you have a significant other or partner that works for the city or state? I know its a long shot, but that's how I was able to get covered after I graduated and had to take a semester off (I graduated in December and my program only has a Fall admission). My SO and I live together so we were able to apply for a domestic partnership and through that I was able to get both medical and dental after losing my parents' insurance. This may not apply to your particular situation, but its a way to get insurance without having to marry someone, get a full time job, or take it out yourself.

Other than that, though, I would definitely emphasize that you should not go without insurance! You just don't know what will happen and you don't want to get stuck in a situation where you will have to pay everything out of pocket. Even medication for ailments like the flu can cost a lot if you don't have insurance.

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some companies offer temporary insurance policies with basically just 'emergency coverage' for up to 6 months. i did that myself. i think i got a 6 month plan for a total of $300. but then after the 6 months, you have to wait another 2-3 months before you can renew it again. its really only supposed to be temporary.

Hey, I just wanted to thank you for mentioning this. I had no idea that there were options like this. I'm currently working full time (while completing my MA no less) so I have health insurance, but I was planning on quitting at the beginning of May so that I can get my thesis done in the beginning of summer. I was thinking I would have to do COBRA which would be about $250/month, which isn't too bad and because I would work into the first couple days of May I would only need insurance for June and July, but I just got a quote for the temp insurance and that would cost me $185 total for the summer months and is actually better insurance than I have!

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The comments have a lot of good advice already, so I just have a couple extra suggestions to add to the pile: first, check your parents' health insurance and exactly how long it's good for, mine was supposed to end when I turned 23 (summer birthday) but actually continued until the end of the calendar year when I turned 23; second, if you're looking for something to do during the year off, consider Americorps, which doesn't pay well but is for a fixed term and includes benefits; third, on the off-chance you live in MA, we have subsidized health insurance, which is killing the state budget but is pretty awesome if for some reason you can't get job-based coverage.

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Thank you, everyone, for you helpful responses. I will discuss these other options with my parents over spring break. My mother's sort of behaving erratically, suggesting odd things that might fix my "problem" which, right now, I'm not entirely sure exists, because I have yet to hear from two schools as well as a Fulbright teaching program.

COBRA--I have never heard of that, and I don't think my dad has, either. I'll bring that up! Thanks for alerting me of its existence!

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just another piece of food for thought...

my university offered gap coverage for graduating seniors who were unsure of what was next. You said you're currently a student, so you should check with your university's financial services. I was given the option to buy the plan from May-August (covers people over the summer before starting grad school) and the plan can be renewed as many times as needed for 6 months at a time.

it was cheaper than COBRA, though it only covers illness/injury (that's all i need anyway). It also covered my pre-existing prescription!

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