The health insurance market is staggeringly complex even for adults who are trained to navigate it. If you're an 18 year old searching for health insurance for yourself and your significant other, you're probably feeling pretty overwhelmed. Even as the economy struggles to shake a persistent recession that has cost millions of American jobs, the typical American's health insurance costs are rising at two to three times the national rate of inflation.
To make matters worse, a slew of new regulations is making it even more confusing to choose and purchase the proper insurance policy. Before you make a potentially costly mistake, you'll need to wrap your mind around a few important facets of the health insurance market. Once you do so, you'll have a better framework for properly assessing the potential costs of your policy and get an idea of what you should be paying for coverage.
First of all, it's important to note that health insurance costs are dramatically higher for people who suffer from certain "pre-existing" health conditions. These can include Type I diabetes, congenital heart defects and serious allergies. Thanks to the recently-passed Affordable Care Act, insurance companies are no longer permitted to deny coverage on the basis of these conditions. However, they retain a tremendous degree of pricing power and typically levy painful surcharges on chronically-ill policyholders.
If you're lucky enough not to have a pre-existing condition, you may be able to procure basic health insurance coverage for yourself and your significant other at a cost of less than $400 per month. Before purchasing a policy on the open market, check with your employer to determine whether you're eligible for coverage under its group health insurance policy. If you work more than 30 hours per week at the same job, chances are good that you'll be eligible.
Since group health plans enjoy greater economies of scale, you could save an additional $100 to $200 per month on your combined health insurance coverage. In addition, most employers don't require their employees to pay the full cost of their premiums.
If you can't procure health insurance through a group health plan, you may be able to add yourself to your parents' insurance plan. Under the new healthcare law, insurers must permit children to remain on their parents' health insurance policies until they turn 26. Unfortunately, your significant other won't be able to ride on your parents' policy.