The importance of insurance

Leenika Belfield-Martin | Lifestyle Editor

Imagine you are on your way to class one morning when the unexpected happens. You trip on the stairs, breaking your leg. When you see the hospital bill, it’s almost $17,000! Now, in addition to financing your education, how are you going to pay for your medical bills?

About one in five Americans would have to pay this expense in its entirety. That is because they don’t have health insurance, according to the CDC. For young adults 18 to 24, 30% lack a source of usual medical service and have no health insurance. This means that a situation like the one described above is a reality for a number of college students.

Investopedia.com defines health insurance as “a type of insurance coverage that pays for medical and surgical expenses incurred by the insured.” Essentially, think of health insurance as an investment for any future emergency or doctor’s visits.

There are three things to look for when choosing an insurance plan: the premium, the deductible and the network.

Each plan differs in coverage, so it’s important to find the plan that is best designed for your needs. There are three things to look for when choosing an insurance plan: the premium, the deductible and the network.

The amount you pay monthly for your insurance plan is called a premium. However, this isn’t the only cost for health insurance. Think of it as your health’s mortgage.

A deductible is the amount before the insurance starts to cover the costs. For example, if you would pay $2,000 for your broken leg, the health insurance pays the remaining $15,000. Generally, the higher the premium, the lower the deductible.

Not every health insurance plan has coverage in different areas. This is why it’s important to know a health insurance company’s network. These are the doctors, hospitals and suppliers that are contracted through the company to provide health services to members with their insurance.

One great online resource for comparing health insurance rates is NerdWallet.com. There are also a few other options students can consider.

Hampton University offers a Student Health Injury and Sickness Plan that students can enroll in the beginning of the academic year. This plan has a $0 deductible and a $993 annual fee.

Government-funded health insurance is also an option for some young adults. The one that young adults with no children are most likely to be eligible for is Medicaid. This is a program that provides free or low-cost health insurance to low-income people.

Recently, Medicaid was expanded in Virginia to cover non-disabled adults who are employed, in school or participating in some sort of community engagement activities. This means that students who are independent from their parents and make less than $16,753 annually are eligible to apply. It is completely free to enroll and applications are taken on a rolling basis. Each state has different eligibility requirements, so this is important to keep in mind if you move to another state after graduation.

Insurance is not an option; it is a necessity.  Apply for health insurance now and avoid expensive bills later.

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