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Seniors scramble for health coverage

Rachel Kunkel is graduating in less than month and hasn’t found a job yet.
But that’s not the only thing she’s worried about.
After May 16, Kunkel will no longer be covered under her family’s health insurance plan, and she doesn’t know how she will afford a plan of her own.
“I don’t have enough in my savings account to buy my own plan. I’m going to hope that nothing major happens,” Kunkel said. “I’m sure that if I got into a car accident or something my parents would help me out, but I feel really bad asking them for money.”
Medical Director of Health Services Dr. Jessica Higgs said students should talk to their parents and future employers about their insurance options. Some students may be covered under their families’ plans until they are 25 years old, while others may lose their insurance the day they graduate.
It is not a good idea to not have any health insurance, and students should secure a plan before graduating, Higgs said.
“People that age think it’s a great idea because they’re not sick, but if something happens, health care costs are ridiculously high,” she said. 
She said even the most simple procedure can cost a lot of money.
“If you needed an X-ray, that would cost $200-plus,” Higgs said. “My mom got her appendix out last fall, and for a one-night stay it was $30,000, and they didn’t pay very much because they have insurance.”
However, Kunkel said because she isn’t confident she will get a job, she doesn’t know if she can get insurance through her employer.
“It’s so close to the end of the semester now and I’m so busy with other things that it’s hard to find a job,” she said. “I might have a job, but it all depends on how interviews go. I’m not counting on it.”
Kunkel said she has had some trouble paying for health insurance this year, even though she is still covered by her family’s plan.
“I had a bunch of respiratory infections and stuff so I had to buy $100 worth of antibiotics this semester, and it’s cutting into money that I usually use for food and things that I need,” she said.
Melody Berry, the market vice president and practice leader of commercial sales and retention for Humana, said students have two options for insurance after they graduate – a short-term plan or an individual plan.
Students should look into getting short-term plans if they know when they will be covered by their future employers.
“For example, if a student graduates and knows that on specific date, say in three or six months, they will be starting a job where they will have health insurance benefits or group plan, then a short-term plan is an appropriate option,” Berry said.
However, short-term plans do not cover pre-existing conditions, or a condition that a student has needed coverage for before graduation.
Individual plans offer students a less expensive option, while covering pre-existing conditions, Berry said.
Insurance costs depend on the plans students choose.
For example, Berry said Humana offers a plan for as low as $40 to $80 a month.
“Costs also can depend on age, where a student lives and if they are a smoker or non-smoker,” she said.