For New Grads, Health Insurance Can Be an Issue

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Graduating from a Johns Hopkins University master's degree program and securing a full-time job at an environmental think tank meant Nisha Krishnan had to make a big financial decision: What to do about health insurance?

Sure, she could have gone with her employer's insurance, but knowing that landing a job in this economy doesn't necessarily mean keeping one, she did not want to rely on her company for health care. So the 23-year-old Mount Pleasant resident decided to search for her own insurance. "If I change jobs I won't have insurance," she said. "I don't want to be in a situation where that happens."

A number of graduates this spring will go through the same grueling process. Even before this recession, 20-somethings made up the largest group of uninsured people. Not having health insurance is one of the biggest mistakes young people can make. Accidents happen.

Krishnan, who will earn a master's degree in applied economics this month, turned to, a Web site that compares health insurance plans. She settled on CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield, which costs her $140 a month.

For all you college graduates trying to sort out your insurance, here are some tips from

Learn the lingo. Terms you'll need to understand: co-payments, coinsurance, out-of-pocket limit, and lifetime maximum.

Talk to an agent. If you have a pre-existing health condition, a licensed agent can help you figure out whether or not your pre-existing problems would exclude you from qualifying for an individual policy. Talk to your doctor.

If you are temporarily unemployed, consider short-term health insurance. It typically lasts six months and can be a good way to prevent a health insurance gap when you are looking for a job.

-- Nancy Trejos

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