The Ultimate Health Insurance Cheat Sheet for College Grads (and Young & Healthies)

Congrats, grad. You've officially made it to the real world, where being an adult comes with lots of exciting things like buying your own health insurance and finding a job. Such fun, fun things.

Even though you've got a degree in hand, it's okay to admit that you don't know how to buy health insurance (who does?). We've put together 7 quick tips to make you a whiz in no time.

Buying health insurance? Here's what you need to know:

Tip 1: Learn the basics.

Don't know how health insurance works? Haven't learned what "deductible" means? Check out this quick guide. In just a few minutes, you'll be an expert on basic health insurance features, how doctor networks function, and more.

Tip 2: Losing your coverage? Buy now!

If graduating from college means you're losing health insurance, you've got what the government calls a“qualifying event”. This lets you purchase insurance within 60 days of your graduation date, even though it's outside of Open Enrollment (when anyone sign up for coverage).

Tip 3: Your university plan may work as a fallback.

If you need to buy yourself a little time after you graduate and you’re still on your university’s plan, you might be able to extend it beyond your graduation. Be sure to check because the rules vary from school to school. It’s probably best to find an individual plan that will cover you long term, but your university’s insurance is better than nothing!

Tip #4: Starting a new job? It’s best to comparison shop.

Your job might offer “group” plans, but be sure to take a close look at the dollars and cents you need to contribute out of your paycheck to participate. You may find a cheaper plan on your own, especially if you qualify for a government discount.

Tip #5: Still under 26? Talk to your parents.

Your parents can include you as a dependent on their plan until you’re 26. (And as long as you're out of their basement, this is totally a cool option.) Even so, your own well-priced plan may cost them less than adding you onto their existing policy. If you’re on their plan now, do them a favor and see if it would be cheaper to buy your own coverage instead. Stride can help you compare your options for free.

Tip #6: Before buying, assess your health status.

This is one of the most important steps to buying health insurance. Ask yourself: How often do I see the doctor? What prescription medications do I take? If you are active and healthy, you can purchase a catastrophic plan. Your monthly payments will be cheaper, but you'll pay more for doctor visits and prescriptions. And if an emergency strikes, your wallet will be protected. Pro tip: Even with a catastrophic plan, your annual checkups are free and we can get you big prescription discounts.

Managing an illness? You might consider a plan that provides flexible and expansive coverage. We can do this tricky calculus for you in a few minutes, so you’ll know exactly which type of plan will cover your medical expenses while saving you the most.

Tip #7: See if the government will lend a hand.

Whether you’re working a steady full time job or juggling a few freelance projects, you definitely don’t want to worry about the cost of insurance. Many recent graduates qualify for tax credits or government plans, which provide free or low cost insurance. Be sure to enter your income when you search for plans on Stride so you can get the deal you deserve.

Still confused? Don't sweat it. Email us at or give us a call: 415-930-9110. We've got your back!

Hack, HealthNoah LangComment