ALT="Millennials and health insurance, Insurance Problem Solver"With the economy in the can and the stability of employment being, well, unstable, many Millennials are unable to get or keep their dream jobs. But they still need income, so many opt to work for themselves. Gigs here and there, some longer than others, but nonetheless, work. The upside is that it gives a chance to do what you really like, to hone your skills, and to fill your resume (“Consultant” is a good word…). Sometimes, you can even work from home and work in jeans or pajamas. Ideally, you can even be selective about your clients (but usually, not at first).

A downside is a constant search for work. The job of the moment may not pay all expenses, or it may last long. Therefore, you’ll need to keep searching Indeed or other sites and sending out those resumes. Get used to rejection, but get over it because that’s just how it is.

Health Insurance For Millennials

An even bigger issue can be health insurance for all millennials. However bad the old job may have been, one of the better things might have been the benefits, especially health insurance. Now that the job is gone (if it ever existed), the health insurance is gone too, and you are on your own. If you are not a gambler who wants to bet that you’ll never get sick, here are some health insurance tips that might fill the void.

  • Private health insurance. This is sometimes called a “fee-for-service” policy. You would apply for an individual or family policy from a licensed health insurance company. You can do this through a licensed health insurance agent or one of the state insurance exchanges established under the Affordable Care Act. If you are single, you will get an individual policy, but if you have a family, you might get one that covers everyone (it might be called a “family policy”). Your children can be insured under it, under current law, until they are 26. Whether you go to an agent or through an insurance exchange, you can select policies with different “richness” of benefits. That essentially refers to the extent of coverage that they supply. You can lower the premium to make the health insurance more affordable in a couple of ways:
    1. Get a health insurance policy with lower coverage limits (one that is “less rich”)
    2. Increase the deductible (the amount that you have to pay out of pocket) before the insurance company starts paying
    3. Increase the co-payment (the amount that you have to pay out-of-pocket for each medical encounter). Co-payments also apply to prescriptions if you get prescription coverage.
    Don’t forget, though, that if your spouse is working and has health insurance, you may be able to get on his/her policy during the next annual Open Enrollment.
  • Enroll in a Managed Care Plan. The most widely known kind of managed care plan is called a Health Maintenance Organization (HMO). It is “private” but operates differently than fee-for-service and is often less expensive. Some HMOs allow you to enroll directly, but you might want to consult with a licensed insurance agent before deciding which one to get. This is especially true because not all HMOs operate in all portions of a state.

One of the advantages of an HMO for millennials is that membership provides a comprehensive bucket of healthcare services for a single monthly fee. HMOs are known for their emphasis on preventative care. When you join, you are assigned a “Primary Care Physician” (PCP) who is in charge of coordinating all of your care. What many people consider to be a downside of an HMO is the requirement of a referral from your PCP to see a specialist. If there is an appropriate specialist in the HMO network, you will be referred to him/her, and the usual co-payment will apply. If there isn’t, the PCP can refer you to one outside the network, and you’ll be charged the regular co-payment. But, if you go to an outside specialist without authorization, you could get stuck with paying the entire fee.

  • COBRA. This is a part of a federal law called the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act. Part of the law allows individuals and families to continue their work-related health insurance for a limited time. The loss of the health insurance must result from qualifying events, including:
    1. Job loss
    2. Reduction in hours (so that there is no further entitlement to health insurance)
    3. Death or divorce (of a spouse under whose insurance the person was covered)
    Your former employer will have given you notice of your COBRA rights when you started working for him/her/it. When you leave employment, you must notify the insurer quickly if you want COBRA coverage. Your premium for it can be up to 102% of what it charged your former employer, and you are responsible for the full premium. You will still have to seek health insurance when COBRA ends…unless you are still a gambler…