By Megan Kutulis Brian Loschiavo
November 19, 2009

Shannon Keough

Health care legislation now going through Congress is likely to affect young college graduates more than any other age group. With the job market tight, finding a job with health insurance will continue to be a challenge.

“I was dropped from my dad’s insurance plan because of my age. It didn’t matter that I was still a college student and couldn’t afford health insurance on my own, and that I didn’t have a job that would give me health benefits,” Stacey Turnbull, 2007 Cabrini graduate, said.

Turnbull is just one of the thousands of college graduates who has felt the harsh reality of traditional health insurance policies, which usually drop students at age 23, or six months after graduation. Each family needs to investigate their own plan. Insurance experts say it is important not to go without co use that is called a “lapse in coverage” and may make it harder to get insurance later on.

For students who are caught up in excitement of new jobs, new apartments and new beginnings, thoughts about shopping for health insurance may fall to the wayside.

“I knew it was important, but I think I didn’t realize just how important or expensive it was. I always thought of it as just for important hospital visits, but you need health care for the simpler things, too, like prescriptions,” Anthony Sessa, 2009 Cabrini graduate, said.

Like Sessa, many college seniors underestimate the importance of health care, often viewing it as only necessary for extreme cases. Unfortunately, this sense of invincibility can be costly, and out-of-pocket health care expenses for a healthy college student can reach into the thousands and even more.

“I’m a juvenile diabetic, and even with great coverage, I have to put out $350 a month in co-pays and prescription costs,” Monica Burke, senior English and communication major, said. “When you have a pre-existing condition, one hospital stay could make the difference between being hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt or paying the deductible for your insurance.”

After developing a neurological disorder, Burke was forced to take a year off of school. Because her parents’ insurance only covered her if she was a full-time student, she signed up take classes at her local community college.

“Paying the $1,100 a semester for classes seemed like a better option than paying a COBRA payment of $814 per month for the year I was out of school,” Burke said.

“Medical bills add up quickly; physicals, prescriptions, things like that are expensive. Having health benefits at your job can ensure that expenses like these are covered,” Dr. John Cordes, assistant professor of communication, said.

While most jobs come with the promise of health benefits and adequate coverage, students who are forced to take on part-time jobs or earn too little income for health insurance are joining the ranks of the 47 million uninsured Americans across the nation.

In response to this number the House recently passed a new health care bill, which was President Obama’s No. 1 priority going into office. Within the next few weeks the Senate will propose its own health care bill. If passed, the House and the Senate will then work together to form one cohesive bill, which will be presented to Obama for approval.

Because the new legislation is far from being finalized, students need to understand that it is not a problem solved. This means seeking out jobs that will meet students’ health care needs. “Because my major is math education and there are so many available jobs in that field, I’m planning on being able to find a job,” Gina Mulranen, senior math and secondary education major, said. “Because I have choices health care is going to be a huge factor in where I apply.”

Clearly, college students are at different places regarding their health care decisions. Some, like Mulranen, may have the freedom to choose, while others are working to overcome the pricey out-of-pocket expenses that they may face. But these students have one thing in common – – the necessity that is health care coverage.

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Megan Kutulis Brian Loschiavo

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