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Under 30? Got Health Insurance Yet?

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You've seen all the publicity on "Obamacare," right? If you think The Affordable Care Act—the official name—isn't about you, you're wrong.

Even if you are the healthiest young person in the world, the law now requires that you must have "minimum essential" health insurance coverage.

Deadline approaching: You have to be enrolled in an approved insurance plan by March 31, 2014. If you don't have coverage, and don't have the right excuse for not having that coverage, you will have to pay a tax penalty.

What to do now: Make sure you are covered. Unless you're positive you're already protected by an approved insurance plan, dig into this article.

What options do I have for coverage? You may qualify a couple of ways. Here are a few options:

  • If your parents' health insurance offers coverage for family members, you can stay on (or join) their policy until you turn 26. You do not have to be listed as a dependent on your parent's tax return to be covered as a dependent on their health insurance plan. Don't assume you are covered.Check with your parents to make sure.
  • If you are a college or graduate student, your school may offer a student health plan that meets the law's requirements. Unless your school has notified you in writing that your health plan meets the law, ask them now if their insurance meets the Affordable Care Act standards.Not all schools offer accepted insurance plans.
  • You can buy your own policy from your state health insurance Marketplace (or the federally administered Marketplace if your state has not created one). Depending on your income, you might also qualify for assistance with the cost of your insurance. Through the Marketplace, you can also find out if you are eligible for coverage through Medicaid. You can check all of this information out at
  • Catastrophic policies are available for persons under 30. If you're worried about major medical emergencies, the insurance Marketplace lists special policies for you. With these policies you have to pay the first $6,350 each year before the catastrophic policy kicks in. And you have to pay these premiums yourself.

Can't I wait to buy insurance until I need it? That's not how it works. You aren't able to buy extra car insurance after an accident, can you? Health insurance works the same way. You have to be enrolled in an approved health care plan by March 31, 2014. You can't enroll again until October 15, 2014.

What are the excuses that would keep me from having to enroll by March 31? If you have a "qualifying" life event. For instance:

  • If you're just "aging off" your parents' insurance, you may have more time.
  • If you're getting married or divorced.
  • If you're having a child.
  • If you're moving outside your health plan service area.
  • If you are graduating and losing your student health insurance.

Can I buy insurance outside of the Insurance Marketplace? Yes, but policies bought outside of the Marketplace are not eligible for premium assistance and might not meet the "minimum essential" requirements.

More details: This report has only provided answers to some basic questions. If you need more info to help you get this right, use the resources below.

Get this right! March 31 is a lot closer than you think, and enrolling in a plan can take time.

Cheers, Will.

For More Information:

  • HealthLawHelper is an interactive tool from Consumer Reports that can help you determine how the law affects you. Enter some basic information and the tool will provide personalized options for your particular situation.
  • Consumer Reports also has a detailed guide that includes a new article each day until January 1, 2014.
  • The Kaiser Family Foundation has a good report that deals with young people at the Affordable Care Act.
  • has detailed information about applying for coverage and qualifying for lower costs.
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