New graduates will need health insurance

Graduating students on the University of Minnesota’s plan can continue coverage or go on a state plan.

by Kendall Moon

Along with finding a job, some newly graduated University of Minnesota students will soon have to find new health insurance.

The Affordable Care Act requires all Americans to have health insurance. To avoid a pool of students leaving school without coverage, the University is encouraging graduating students currently on the school’s health care plan to set up new insurance.

For recent graduates who are enrolled in the University-sponsored Student Health Benefit Plan, their coverage expires Aug. 24. But they’ll have the option to continue coverage with the University’s health insurance provider, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota, said University Student Health Benefits Director Sue Jackson.

Blue Cross has a special partnership with the University for students that have been on the school’s health plan for six months or longer. Spring semester graduates have until Oct. 23 to enroll in the continuing Blue Cross plans, which will be retroactive to Aug. 24.

Students may also apply for insurance through Minnesota’s online health care exchange, MNsure.

Although MNsure’s open enrollment ended in March, those with special circumstances, like graduating students losing their school’s coverage, are eligible to apply during a special enrollment period lasting up to 60 days after their University insurance expires.

Those who don’t register within that time period won’t be able to receive coverage from MNsure until the next open enrollment period in November.

MNsure spokesman Joe Campbell said it’s important for young people to get covered because although they’re statistically the healthiest age group, they’re also the most likely to visit the emergency room.

“You don’t want to start your career with student loans and medical emergencies not covered,” Campbell said.

For some graduating students, finding health insurance is stressful.

Recent family social science graduate Ali Jacobson is on the University’s health care plan. Before Jacobson’s parents put her on their health plan, she didn’t know what she was going to do once her University plan expired.

Still, she said she’s never been overly worried about being covered.

“I knew I would have to get [a plan], but I guess I wasn’t that concerned because I don’t use my health insurance very often,” she said.

Since its launch last October, MNsure has been pushing students and young people to get insured.

As of May 13, 216,000 Minnesotans were enrolled in MNsure. About one-fourth of them were between the ages of 18 and 35, Campbell said.

Because this is the first time MNsure has been available for graduates losing coverage, the program is anticipating an increase in enrollees after graduation, Campbell said, but it’s unclear just how much of a bump it will see.

“We’re not really sure what to expect,” he said.