Health insurance 101: 4 tips for young adults

By The Health News Team | August 18, 2021
Health insurance 101: 4 tips for young adults

Let's face it — becoming an adult can be intimidating. There's paying bills, living on your own and setting up your own health care for the first time. After years of going to a doctor chosen by your family, it can be confusing to know what to do when it's time to take charge of your own health. Whether you're signing up for health insurance through your employer or searching for a plan through Covered California™, the amount of options can be overwhelming.

Don Truong, director of sales at Sharp Health Plan, shares these four tips for young adults navigating health insurance plans for the first time.

  1. Know your options
    Not all health plans are alike, so it's important to look around until you find options that work best for you. Covered California, the state's health insurance marketplace, is a great place to start when browsing plans. "It's comparable to shopping on Amazon," says Truong. "You want to purchase the products that have high-quality ratings."

    Price is also an important factor to consider during your search. "Check with Covered California to see if you qualify for any financial assistance to help pay for the monthly premium, copays and deductibles. Through 2022, the American Rescue Plan is making extra financial help available to those who qualify," says Truong.

    If you'll be going to school in a different state, it's important to consider your out-of-area care options. You'll have access to these services when you're outside of the area your health plan covers. If you're unsure, check with your current health insurance carrier to avoid any gaps in coverage.

  2. Learn the terms
    When comparing plans and prices, it's important to know these key terms:
    Deductible — the amount you owe for health care services before your health plan starts to pay
    Premium — the amount you pay for your health insurance every month
    Copay — a fixed amount you pay for a covered health care service

  3. Use community resources
    "Luckily, there are a lot of free community resources throughout San Diego County that can help with finding a plan that works for you," says Truong. For example, Sharp Health Plan hosts free "Insurance 101" virtual enrollment labs twice a week during open enrollment season. The labs will be held in person when it's safe to do so. Certified enrollment counselors (in other words, health insurance experts) are available during the labs to answer your questions and help you figure out which plan is best for you.

  4. Find a doctor that's right for you
    Once you choose your health plan, another big decision comes when selecting your primary care doctor. There are so many factors that go into finding someone who fits your lifestyle and personality.

    According to Truong, the top reasons people choose a primary care doctor are age, gender and location. It's also important to find a doctor you will feel comfortable talking to about your health concerns. Browsing doctor profiles on your health plan's website can give you a sense of their personalities to see who matches what you are looking for.

"Adulting" can be hard, but choosing a health plan doesn't have to be. There are plenty of options and resources to help you navigate through the confusion and set up the perfect health insurance plan for you.
Covered California's open enrollment period is Nov. 1, 2021, through Jan. 31, 2022. Find out today if you qualify for financial help.

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