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Campus Overload
Posted at 10:22 AM ET, 05/12/2011

Transitioning out of college — and away from the health center


You have your commencement cap and gown. The keg is ordered, your summer road trip is planned. But will you have health insurance through all the festivities? Now is the time to make sure.

That's just one thing on a list of things soon-to-be college grads should do right now, according to Dan Bruey of the American University Student Health Center: Refill all prescriptions, resolve any treatment issues, transfer from the campus health center to another provider and get a copy of your medical records.

Bruey, who is also president-elect of the Mid-Atlantic College Health Association, was online Thursday afternoon to answer questions during Campus Overload Live.

You can read the full transcript, but here are some of the things we discussed:

Can I get away without health insurance for awhile?

Dan Bruey: It all comes down to risk. It you want to risk your not only your physical health but your financial health and well being, then go without might work for you. I would not recommend it, accidents and injuries happen, and some insurances might not have fully eliminated pre-existing condition clauses which might prevent coverage for conditions for which you received treatment in the past. This will go away with health care reform but don’t take the risks.

This might be overly paranoid of me, but I’m wondering how to get healthcare if 1) my parents’ plan won’t cover me and 2) I have no job. I have some leeway, but the clock is ticking. How does a person even start to find healthcare on their own?

Dan Bruey: I do not think you are being paranoid. You are thinking ahead which will help you in the long run. Start with a basic internet search for options (low cost clinics, community health centers, government health screenings) for care in the town or city where you live. Look at sites like www.ehealthinsurance.com for finding short term plans and insurance comparisons.

Dan, with the recent changes in health care, don’t most college students have health insurance through their parents until they are 26? Does that mean they don’t have anything to worry about?

Dan Bruey: As long as keeping a student on a parent’s plan is not cost prohibitive for the family, the student should be okay. College students can also access their university health center for quality, low cost care.

How about students who are graduating from high school right now -- what do they need to do to prepare for college in the fall?

Dan Bruey: Health wise -- you should make sure you have received immunizations required by the state in which you will be attending school, check to see if your parent’s plan provides coverage out of state (and at what percentage), if there is a long standing health condition find a specialist in the state where you will be attending school, be aware of resources at the school and do not be afraid to take advantage of them, reduce stress but participating in activities you enjoy, study, learn,play, eat right, get enough sleep, all the things you have heard throughout your young life.

I don't understand how the new health care plan works... My daughter could NOT stay on my plan if she had health insurance available at her current job. Others were allowed to keep their sons and daughters on their plans. Why the discrepancies? Shouldn’t it be everyone or no one as far as the rules go?

Dan Bruey:It is complicated. Health care reform included a transition period where certain existing group health plans do not have to provide dependent coverage until 2014 if they have another option of employer based coverage. I would schedule a time to discuss this with your HR / Benefits representative.

Most alumni associations let you buy health insurance thru them. it’s usually really reasonable. I did that for a bit after graduation.

Dan Bruey: Also a great option for graduating students if it is available!

And there is a new toolkit that provides information on health insurance and health care reform at YoungInvincibles.org.

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Again, you can read the full transcript on Campus Overload Live. (Note from Jenna: Some of the questions and answers above have been edited for length, typos and clarity.)

Next Thursday we will be chatting about preparing for a summer internship — from finding housing to doing research on your new employer to cleaning up your Facebook profile to assembling a professional wardrobe.

By  |  10:22 AM ET, 05/12/2011

 
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