Most college grads don’t know too much about medical insurance. They are usually on their parent’s plan, or a school plan that their parents helped them choose. However, it is important to learn about health insurance in order to know what is covered and what is not, how much coverage you need, and how much you will be paying.
If you are a lucky college grad whose first job in “the real world” includes full health insurance benefits. Congratulations! You are one of the few people who do not have to worry about health insurance. You will just go to the doctor and purchase prescriptions as needed, with your job footing the bill. However, most jobs will not cover the entire cost of your health insurance, especially if you work for a small company.
Usually, you will either pay a percentage of the costs of health insurance if you get insurance through your job. This is the best way to do it because health insurance is quite expensive, usually about $150 per month or more. But that’s not all. There is usually a deductible. The deductible is the amount you must pay before you can receive benefits. It is essential for college grads to know the deductible quantity, which is sometimes up to $5,000 or more! Health insurance policies with high deductibles may be deceiving because their monthly rate is much lower than a plan with a lower deductible. However, if you are getting insurane through work, you will usually only have to pay a set amount every month and not need to worry about the deductible.
College grads will also need to know about co-pays and referrals. The co-pay is how much you are responsible for paying every time you go to the doctor. If there is no co-pay, then you do not need to pay anything. With a full benefits health insurance plan, co-pays are a fraction of what you would normally pay, for example $15 for regular doctor visits or $25 to see a specialist. A referral is sometimes needed from the insurance company before you can see a doctor. Check to see if your plan requires a referral. If so, you should call the insurance company at least one day before going to the doctor. Most doctors will not see you if you need a referral until they receive it, which may cause a delay in seeing the doctor, or you may even have to return to the office after you get the referral.
Your health insurance plan will also have pharmacy benefits. The benefits are separated into a tiered-pricing structure, with certain medicines costing less than others depending on whether or not they cover the medication and in what tier it is in. When going to the pharmacy, make sure you have your insurance card and check your pharmacy benefits guide to be certain you are not being overcharged.
When you go to the doctor, they usually file a claim for their service to you. However, if for some reason you paid the visit in full and they later ask you to file the claim, make sure the refund check is to go to YOU and not the provider. If you mark that it should go to the provider, the check will be in the name of the doctor, and there is no guarantee that the doctor will provide you the refund. This is a form of insurance fraud that any college grad could easily fall into, so please be aware that this occurs.
In essence, college grads need to be aware of the actual costs of their health insurance, both monthly and the deductible. They also need to know what the insurance covers and how much to expect to pay for both doctor visits and prescribed medication. Lastly, they need to be aware of health insurance fraud and how to avoid it. Knowing all of this, the college grad will be equipped both with their degree and the ability to make informed decisions about health insurance.