News Releases

June 01, 2009

About to Leave or Graduate from College? Don’t Neglect Health Insurance

Montpelier, VT--If you find yourself between college graduation and a job, or still looking for work, or just taking a break until you figure out your life, there is one thing you should not let slide in the interim, and that’s health insurance. You may be young and healthy, and think that you won’t become hurt or sick, but it can happen. It’s a dangerous wager to let your insurance lapse. A serious accident or illness could snarl you in debt for decades. If you had insurance

through college or under your parents’ policy while in school, do you have any idea when that

coverage ends exactly? Did you know that letting your policy lapse may affect your options for

continuing coverage? Here is some general information about health insurance you can consider:

Some health insurers terminate eligibility for coverage upon graduation, while others set a

particular age limit. If you have had a student policy, find out whether you have an option to

extend it until you can start a new plan. Be sure to comply with any cancellation requirements if

you are changing plans. If you have any pre-existing medical conditions, a lapse in coverage may

result in an exclusion or postponement of coverage for those conditions under your next health

plan, whether through a new job or if you are self-employed. Research your options for avoiding

a lapse in coverage.

Know Your Options

Some of the health insurance options available for recent graduates are:

Vermont’s Green Mountain Health Care and Catamount Health Programs

The member services representatives at Green Mountain Care can help you understand available

programs including Catamount Health Insurance, the Premium Assistance Program and the

Vermont Health Access Plan. You can contact them directly at: 1 (800) 250-8427, TDD: 1 (888)

834-7898. You can also research their website at: www.GreenMountainCare.org . You may

become eligible for one of these programs if you have exceeded the age limit for coverage under

a parent’s plan, if you left college prior to graduation, or if you lost coverage provided by your

college when you graduated. If you find that you are eligible, apply as soon as possible. Your

effective date of coverage depends on a number of factors, including the date of application.

Continuation of group insurance - (called “COBRA” under federal law and Vermont

Continuation of Group Health insurance under state law and commonly referred to as

“VIPER”)

If you have been covered under your parents' health insurance policy while you were in college,

you should check to see whether you can extend your parents' coverage for a period of time

under state or federal continuation law. This will enable you to keep the same coverage, but you

will have to pay the full premium, and an administrative fee.

Individual and Small Group Health Insurance

Individual health insurance is available for purchase if you are not eligible for employersponsored

health insurance. Vermonters who are self-employed may purchase small group

insurance, directly or through an association. In general, you will pay lower premiums for a

higher-deductible policy, but it may only cover the most expensive (often serious or catastrophic)

health care costs. For a copy of “Consumer Tips: Shopping for Individual or Small Group Health

Insurance in Vermont,” visit our website (www.bishca.state.vt.us) and click on “Health Care

Administration” and then Consumer Publications. Or, call 800-631-7788.

Beware: Is it actual health insurance?

There are a number of products out there that sound tempting but that are not real health

insurance. For example, discount health plans refer to a type of “buyers club” that markets

reduced-rate health care services. These programs may offer discounts on health care and other

services from hospitals, doctors, dentists, as well as discounts on prescription drugs, vision

services, ambulance and other types of specialty medical care. This is not health insurance.

Check the insurance company and agent with BISHCA to confirm that the product is legitimate

and that they are licensed to sell health insurance in your state. You can also check the Consumer

Information Source (CIS) at: www.naic.org/consumer_home.htm on the National Association of

Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) website for statistics about consumer complaints filed against

insurance companies.

Research to Obtain More Information

To learn more about the different kinds of health insurance, visit our website (Go to

www.bishca.state.vt.us, click on Health Care Administration Consumer Help & Info, or call

Health Insurance Consumer Services at 800-631-7788.

Source: Banking, Insurance, Securities Health Care Administration
Last Updated at: June 01, 2009 16:21:39