One Young Couple's Choices
- His: Free, on his mother’s plan
- Hers: $143.87 per month on an individual plan
- Emergency savings to cover her deductible: $2,500
- Debt: $0
Travis and Alesha Sinks are young, married, and healthy. But they’ve never been without health insurance.
“Just because you’re young, you can’t assume you won’t have health problems,” Alesha says. “You hear stories of people who are perfectly healthy and something happens.”
Travis adds, “We have a friend who just got diagnosed with diabetes.”
Maintaining Separate Plans
In September 2012, Travis and Alesha moved from Olympia, Wash., to Delray Beach, Fla., to help with a friend’s church. There, Alesha started work as a self-employed tutor and Travis got hired on part time at Starbucks.
To keep expenses low, Travis decided to stay on his mother’s health insurance plan. His 24-year-old sister, who is attending law school in North Carolina, is on the plan, too. Under the Affordable Care Act, young people can be covered under a parent’s health insurance plan until they reach the age of 26.
“If it’s an option to stay on a parent’s plan, it’s no different than free money,” Travis says. “Why not take it?”
Travis’ mother’s plan, which is based in Washington, covers medical emergencies in Florida but not doctor visits. Although that could present an issue for some young people, Travis, who is healthy except for some seasonal allergies that have eased since he moved to Florida, says he’ll schedule his checkups during trips to Washington to visit his family.
Looking ahead to the future, Travis considers a health plan from Starbucks a fallback that he’ll check out when he turns 26.
Just because you're young, you can't assume you won't have health problems.
Uncovering Many Paths to Health Insurance
Alesha has been handling her own health care choices for the past two years. As a teen, she was on low-income assistance health insurance through her parents, but she was booted off that plan when she turned 19.
Since then, she has made sure to cover herself from a variety of sources that were available to her at different times:
- From April to August 2010, she signed up for a health plan through her part-time job at a fitness center.
- Following that, she paid an extra fee to receive health insurance for a year through her school, Saint Martin’s University.
- Once out of school, she purchased an individual policy through Regence BlueShield, paying $180 a month for health care coverage.
Shopping Around for a New Plan
Alesha and Travis Sinks, 22 and 21 respectively, searched online to find Alesha’s health insurance.
Upon moving to Florida last September, Alesha searched for a new local individual insurance plan using a comparison site called eHealthInsurance.
“I shopped around online and when I didn’t understand all the technical insurance terms, I just Googled them,” Alesha says.
Once she understood some basic terminology, such as deductible, copay, and premium, shopping for a new plan was easy.
“It sounds scary and I didn’t want to touch insurance,” says Alesha. “But it’s not as scary or as complicated as it seems.”
“There’s a lot of jargon, but you can figure it out in 45 minutes,” says Travis, who helped his wife in her search. “Use an hour of your life to get health insurance.”
Fitting Health Insurance into the Budget
When Travis and Alesha got married in May 2011, paying for Alesha’s health insurance became part of their monthly budget as a couple. The Sinks currently pay $143.87 a month for Alesha’s individual plan from Humana, which also comes with a $2,500 deductible.
It sounds scary and I didn't want to touch insurance, but it's not as scary or as complicated as it seems.
“With our savings we should be able to cover $2,500 in case of an emergency,” Alesha says.
Health insurance is near the top of their budget each month, after rent on their one-bedroom apartment and food.
“Because we’re married, we have one bank account and combine our incomes,” Alesha says. “When we do our budget, we start with essential things, and health insurance is one of those things.”
To ensure they are living within their means each month, they cut back on other expenses such as eating out and going to the movies.
“We’ve never been in debt, individually, and since we’ve been together,” Travis says. “We’ve always been into budgeting.”
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