Health Insurance Options for Graduating Students

Can I continue my Harvard Student Health Plan?
The Harvard Student Health Plan continues through August 31st of the year you graduate for June graduates, or February 28th for March graduates. It is currently not possible to continue this same plan beyond this end date.

What are my options?.
Health Insurance coverage can be obtained two ways:

o through an employer, on your own as the employee, or as a dependent under a parent or spouse; or

o privately from a health insurance company , known as non-group insurance.

What if I’m job hunting?
It is important to maintain continuous health insurance while you are job hunting. If you are doing some part time, casual or self-employed work check to see if health insurance is offered. Health Insurance obtained through an employer or even through a group (such as a trade union or association) usually takes advantage of special group rates and in most cases is subsidized by the employer. You may qualify as a dependent on a parent’s or spouse’s insurance because you can prove loss of your student coverage.

Non-group coverage is typically the most costly health insurance coverage even when compared to unsubsidized employer group coverage and should be your last resort.

What exactly is non-group?
Non-Group coverage is a medical health insurance plan that is not connected to any employer group, that an individual or subscriber finds and pays for on their own, generally people buy this coverage when they are unemployed, self-employed or their employer does not offer health insurance.

Non-Group Coverage is governed by state regulations, which dictate the “qualifiers”. These regulations were enacted to be sure that health plans did not refuse health insurance to persons with pre-existing conditions (no eligible person can be denied coverage). The state regulations do not require health plans to offer non-group coverage, so some insurers do not.

The key qualifier for eligibility for non-group coverage is that the individual applying must not be eligible for any other employer group related health insurance…. Either from a spouse’s or parent’s plan or though an employer (even if the person doesn’t want the coverage offered from this alternative source; they must have no options).

Can’t I buy HUGHP coverage?
HUGHP only offer coverage to anyone who is 1) a current Harvard University employee and their dependent(s), 2) a former Harvard University employee and their dependents only when he/she has elected and paid for COBRA, 3) a Harvard University retiree and their dependents.

HUGHP does not offer Non-Group coverage.

Who offers non-group?
There are many local and national carriers who offer non-group insurance. What they offer varies widely in benefit packages, network, and of course cost. We provide the following grid as an example of some local carrier’s offerings.

Local Insurers
survey of monthly rate as of 2/2002

HMO Blue Direct

Age 20-24 is $243.43 without prescription coverage or $304.17 with prescription coverage

Tufts Health Plan
Age 20-24 is $269.42

Age 20-29 is $225.87 without prescription coverage or $398.06 with prescription coverage

Age 21-30 is $302.29

o As a comparison Harvard Student Health Plan is $123.67 monthly

o Special Note: When purchasing non-group insurance for dependents, compare costs of multiple individual plans to that of a family plan. Separate individual plans are less in some cases.

How is non-group priced?
Non-group pricing is set by each insurer and depends upon age of the subscriber, location (by zip code), and sometime the specific benefits included or excluded (ex: with or without prescriptions). It is important to understand that non-group coverage is both expensive and varies widely from employer-group coverage, and also from plan to plan. It is important to do some cost and benefits comparison before purchasing this type of insurance. A good place to start is checking coverage is to ask about health services you used in the past with any frequency.

What should I consider when choosing my health plan when I become employed?

When you do begin a new job, you will be faced with a number of choices regarding health and dental insurance, as well as life and disability insurance. You will be given 30 days or less to make those selections.

And once you have made your benefits elections with your new employer, you will not be allowed to switch until their next open enrollment (often the first of each calendar year). It is important that you make careful choices that will serve you well.

Here is a list of questions to assist in comparing your options.
o What are the copays or coinsurance percentage?
o Do I have any deductible?
o What is the extent of the “network” in size and location?
o Do they have the physicians I see regularly?
o Must I select a primary physician?
o Does my primary physician have a “referral circle”, (often is limited)?
o May I see a nurse practitioner or nurse midwife?
o Are referrals to specialists required?
o Is notification of emergency visits required? Is there a penalty if I don’t?
o What is my pharmacy network?
o What are the pharmacy copays ?
o Is chiropractic manipulation covered?
o How many mental health therapy visits are covered and are referrals required?
o Is there a limit to hospitalization days per plan year?
o Is there a physical therapy or rehab therapy limitation?
o Do I have coverage for routine vision screening and glasses or contact lenses?
o Is there any coverage for dental services such as removal of wisdom teeth or a traumatic injury to the jaw and teeth? Is there coverage for services related to TMJ?
o What are the specific exclusions and limitations of the policy? (You will be quite surprised by this list.)