New College Grads Value Health Insurance More Than Parents May Realize

What New College Grads Really Want? Health InsuranceParents, take heed: Those wild and crazy recent college grads of yours may not be as crazy as you think. Turns out, they don't really want to do 200-foot bungee jumps if they don't have health insurance coverage.

Nearly 40% of parents say they aren't willing to keep their adult children on their health insurance plans until age 26, according to a recent eHealthInsurance (EHTH) survey, despite health care reforms that went into effect late last year allowing them to do so. And of the 1,000 parents, full-time college students and recent college graduates surveyed, 43% of parents said they'd only be willing to continue health insurance coverage on their adult children under age 26 if they could do it without additional costs.

Parents may be surprised to find this attitude may increase their chances of having their college grad boomerang back home after the commencement ceremony. For starters, 74% of college grads surveyed say its better to live at home for the first year after college, if it's a choice between having health insurance or living on their own without it.

And nearly half of college grads surveyed, 49%, say its more important to take a job they don't like, if it means receiving health insurance or a retirement account. That's a bit higher than the percentage of parents (46%) who held the same view.

A whopping 93% of college grads surveyed said they would be willing to make such sacrifices as giving up a weekly evening night out to restaurants or movies, or their daily trip to the coffee shop, if it allowed them to afford health insurance.

'One Less Thing to Worry About'

Emily Vancise, 22, of Temple City, Calif., fits the profile. She said she and her friends care about health insurance. The Earlham College graduate, who earned a bachelor's degree in human development in May, says she and her friends discussed the new health care law when it was enacted in the fall.

"Everyone I know is already on their parents' health insurance, but we talked about how relieved we were that we were on their insurance," says Vancise.

In the fall, Vancise will be joining a nonprofit organization as an intern, working with intercity youth in Los Angeles area schools. She'll receive basic health care during her internship, but after her stint is done, she'll have the option to rejoin her parents' health insurance plan.

"It's just one less thing to worry about," Vancise says.

Under the old law, a number of states only mandated health insurers cover children up to age 19, unless the adult child was a full-time college student, in which case coverage continued up to age 24 or 25. The new law allows parents to carry their adult children on their health insurance plans until age 26, whether or not they attend college. Some states, however, already had longer time horizons in place prior to the new law, such as New Jersey which goes up to age 29, says insurance broker Patrick Burns, who operates Burns Employee Benefits in Oakland, Calif.

"Prior to the new law, some parents would even go as far as putting their kids in different training programs or have them take a few classes here and there so they could continue to still provide coverage," Burns says. "But with the new law last fall, we had a pretty big rush in October of parents adding kids onto their plans."

Currently, 31% of college grads are covered by a health insurance policy paid for by their parents - either their parents' plan, or their own individual plan, according to the survey.

college grad health insurance survey

Alternative Options for Insurance

Burns, as well as an eHeathInsurance spokesman, noted there are times when it makes financial sense to cover an adult child and other times when it doesn't.

"Parents who have kids who have moved back home and have no work should definitely add them to their health plan," says Burns.

Parents whose recent college grads are living in areas that are still within their health care provider network should also consider adding their adult children back onto their plan, especially if it's through an employer's group health insurance family plan that doesn't require an additional cost to add family members, Burns says.

But if parents work for a small employer that requires additional costs for family members, it may make better sense to seek out an individual plan. Burns noted that while the benefits of an employer plan may be more extensive, it often costs more than a scaled-down individual plan.

"Young people don't want to pay much for a health plan. Most are looking for something that pays for three or four office visits a year, since they are relatively young and healthy, but has catastrophic coverage with a high deductible," Burns says.

Individual health insurance premiums for 19- to 26-year-olds ran approximately $113 per month in February of last year, according to a survey of plans purchased through eHealthInsurance.

Showing a Surprising Level of Responsibility

Parents whose adult children are living out of state may find the costs to pay out-of-network prices too expensive, so that would be another reason for the college grad to move to an individual plan, says Nate Purpura, an eHealthInsurance spokesman.

Another option college grads may want to consider is short-term health insurance. This can serve as a bridge between graduation day and a job already set to begin within a year with an employer who offers insurance, says Purpura. If a college grad does not have a job guarantee within a year, they are better off riding on their parents plan or seeking an individual plan. he added.

"With the economy where it is and job prospects hard for grads, the statistics from our survey bear it out they are looking for something that will give them stability," Purpura says, noting he was surprised by some things the survey revealed, such as young peoples' willingness to move back home if left with no job or health insurance.

"I was shocked by some of the results. When I was in college, I wanted to pursue my dreams and would do anything not to have to move back home. I'm impressed with how this group of grads are responsible."

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Like every article in HP,is fuzzy,how about a job? the rate we are going,perhaps as community organizers?

June 03 2011 at 6:47 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I'm just laughing at how they say it's responsible for the kids to consider moving back home to save money. Not I didn't do it a for a while (though I had regular "payments" I made into a savings account instead of rent that was required by my parents) because I was working multiple part time jobs and didn't have the consistency of full time guaranteed income, but I wouldn't say all or even most people who do it are being "responsible". Yes financially it's a great way to save money, but it's also really being a mooch... at least when people were willing to go out and do anything to reach their dream it meant living in cramped old broken down apartments (or worse) or living on bread and sliced deli meat (at best) and celebrating meant drinking from your grocery store bought 6 pack instead of happy hour out at a bar, but that's not the convenient life that college grads these days are willing to live by (and again, these are still some of the BEST conditions of being a college grad with limited income) because they have the option to be spoiled at home where mom still might put in a load of laundry for them or stock the fridge weekly... I get the point of the statements but they drill it in multiple times that the kids are being so responsible when really, they're just trying to live a plush lifestyle on a shoestring budget. Again, even though I appreciate everything my parents have done for me, I probably COULD'VE afforded my own place, but we get along and they were willing to help me out where I was REALLY sticking to a plan to save money and look for full time work, but not all of these situations are that planned out. Failure to Launch anyone? :)

June 02 2011 at 4:09 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Catherine's comment

There's nothing wrong with a child living with their parents after college IF that recent grad is doing what is necessary to become independent. This shouldn't be an inherently "good" or "bad" thing as that determination is based on specific circumstances. Obviously if a kid decides they don't want to work and it's easier to live off Mom and Dad, it's a bad thing. But many others are working hard in a part time job while looking for a position in their field. What parent wouldn't help their children in the latter case. Of course, none of that has anything whatsoever to do with the real subject of this article.

June 02 2011 at 7:41 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to bggdg's comment

You are nothing but a pathetiic shill for the insurance industry.

June 03 2011 at 3:00 AM Report abuse rate up rate down

Why should I pay for other people's health insurance. We need healthcare reform but not Obamacare.

June 02 2011 at 2:58 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I spent 40 plus years as a working structural engineer. Over that time period I hand dealings with many other engineers . There were many well educated and there were others that had all the credentails. There is a differance between having an education and being able to apply that education in the real world.

June 02 2011 at 12:45 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

I'm retired from a management job, but before retirement I had to interface with people from GE in one of my companies plants. GE hired engineers right off the Graduation Stage at smaller State Universities to replace experiance front line managers. Because the supply of new engineers exceeded the need, they paid them less than the labors at our company got. These grads had no experience or proper training, but GE expected them to act like pros. Every year GE would fire 25% of those guys and hire more from the same schools. I use to watch our older journeymen play mind games with these kids and I actually saw some of these engineers hide in their office and cry. I never saw a more pathetic display of management or leadership in my life, but due to contractual obligations, I was powerless to do anything. Some of these college kids were so arrogant that the journeymen would just sit back and let them hang themselves. Some had no common sense at all and the journeymen would trick them into looking pretty stupid. After watching this for 8 years I decided that "A MIND IS TERRIBLE THING TO WASTE, DON"T SEND IT TO COLLEGE". I've been retired now for 3 years, the other day I heard from one of my old employees that the company finally voided the contract and through GE off the property. Now the company needs to find 12 people to replace the GE people and they are having a hard time finding volinteers.

June 02 2011 at 9:14 AM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to wbearl's comment

So do you have a point other than you thought GE hired under-qualified engineers? If not, what does that have to do with this subject?

June 02 2011 at 7:43 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

They should call 1-800-OBAMA.

June 02 2011 at 9:13 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

These young adults had better re-examine their goals and wishes. If America is to maintain the current socialist direction healthcare will be the least of their worries. They should be studying the effects of government control over healthcare in Canada, England, and France. Today, the government in England just announced they can not afford to fund socialized healthcare, even with the extremely high taxes. All three countries have already institutes private insurance and private hospitals for those who will pay and need care in a reasonable time frams. As it is now, in all three countries there is a minimum of 18 weeks for an appointment with your doctor. If you need further attention by a specialist, standby. An appointment can take up to 6 months for a MRI. There is a projection of a severe doctor shortage in the USA if and when obamacare is installed. Very, very scary. Beware of what you wish for, you just may get it.

June 02 2011 at 8:55 AM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply

To many rounds of golf as a High School golf coach I don't play that much. Maybe why things are the same or worst never working.

June 02 2011 at 8:06 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

Why can you not comment on other news stories.

June 02 2011 at 8:05 AM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Steve's comment

More HuffPo problems. They try so hard to control everything.

June 02 2011 at 8:21 AM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply

we needed a national health system yesterday !!!! how long is it going to take for people to realize that and instead of wastilng life and money on worthless wars to have a full coverage for all citizens ...yes citizens only ????all the insurance companies are here for the money....and only the money...they could not care less about our health.

June 02 2011 at 7:38 AM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to Paul FIQUET's comment

Please study the effects on nationalized heralthcare in England, Canada and France. They are all failing! England just announced they can no longer afford to fund socialized healthcare, even with high taxes. As for insurance companies and profit, every American who has a 401K, a company retirement program, or a union pension plan is invested in BIG OIL, BIG INSURANCE and just about every other successful BIG BUSINESS! We need these companies to make a profit so we Americans can retire without having to depend on the government for their existance. Shame on you Paul for spewing the socialist mantra of governemnt obamacare. It is doomed from the start. If you want decent healthcare, you had better hope the government does not contropl it. Look at what they did to Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, Fannie Mae and Freddy Mac, AMTRAK, the U.S. Postal Service, the federal retirement program, the Dept of Energy, The Dept of Education,Wefare and a host of other failed government run programs. Beware of what you wish for, you just may get it!

June 02 2011 at 9:04 AM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply

Wouldn't insurance companies ONLY be able to achieve their financial goals IF they offered a product that was in demand in the marketplace?

June 02 2011 at 9:21 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply