Five Things Every PA College Grad Needs to Know about the Affordable Care Act

May 8, 2015

With graduation season upon us, many college graduates will have to make decisions about their health coverage for the first time. Here are some tips to keep in mind:

1. IF YOU’RE UNDER 26, YOU MAY BE ABLE TO STAY ON YOUR PARENTS’ PLAN: If your parents’ plan covers children, you can be added to or kept on your parent’s health insurance policy until you turn 26 years old. You can still stay on the plan even if you are married, not living with your parents, not financially dependent on them, or if you are eligible to enroll in your employer’s plan.

If you are losing coverage when you turn 26, you will qualify for a special enrollment period beginning 60 days before the loss of coverage and ending 60 days after.

2. IF YOU CAN’T STAY ON YOUR PARENTS’ PLAN, GRADUATING FROM SCHOOL MAY QUALIFY YOU FOR SPECIAL ENROLLMENT: Finishing school may make you newly eligible to enroll via the Marketplace when the enrollment period is normally closed if you are losing coverage or moving outside your coverage area. Your special enrollment period is available up to 60 days from when you lose coverage or move.

3. IF YOU’RE ON A BUDGET, HEALTH INSURANCE CAN BE MORE AFFORDABLE THAN YOU THINK: Financial help is available. This year, 81% of Pennsylvanians who signed up got help paying for health insurance. Almost half are paying less than $50 a month for quality coverage. You could too.

And while every plan must cover ten essential services – medications, emergency rooms visits, preventative care, and more – there are enough plans on the Marketplace that you can find a plan that fits your budget. So you can find a plan that won’t break your bank!

And, for many Pennsylvanians, a new program – Health Choices – is available. For those individuals making roughly $16,243 or less ($33,465 or less for a family of four), Health Choices provides free or low-cost coverage. Eligibility is based on income and family size.

4. IF YOU DON’T GET COVERED, YOU MAY HAVE TO PAY A FINE: The fine for not being covered in 2015 is to $325 per adult or 2% of your income – whichever is greater. In many cases, the fine alone is often more costly than getting covered. And the cost of the fine might not be your only worries. The average emergency room bill for something as small as a sprained ankle is $1,018—or 156 Chipotle chicken burritos. A broken arm on average costs $8,094!

5. THERE’S LOTS OF FREE, ONE-ON-ONE HELP TO GET YOU COVERED: Pennsylvanians who want to find out more about their health coverage options through the Marketplace or Health Choices should schedule an appointment to meet with an enrollment expert in their community by calling the Pennsylvania Health Access Network’s Hotline at 1-877-570-3642 or logging onto the Get Covered Connector at getcoveredamerica.org/connector. For more information on Health Choices, visit healthchoicespa.com.

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