Entry-Level Health Care: How to Manage Your First Benefits Package
When college graduates transition into the working world, there are suddenly big choices to make. Which job should you take? What city should you live in? How can you plan for the future? These questions feel major because they are: The answers you come up with can affect the trajectory of your life.
But there’s another important decision you may not think about as much: What health care plan should I choose? Identifying a plan that suits personal needs and budget is important—and it’s a puzzle Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan Associate Communications Writer Emily Martinez and Public Relations Associate Lucy Ciaramitaro are very familiar with.
Martinez, hired in January 2017, needed a plan that would cover care for her chronic migraines. “When I started my search for the right plan, it was important I had ease of access to a neurologist,” says Martinez. “Also, since I take medications that help manage the effects of my migraines, it was essential to have coverage that included a great prescription drug plan.” Martinez found that a she needed a PPO plan that enabled her to visit a specialist without a referral. It also provided access to a quality prescription plan.
Even as a Blue Cross intern, Ciaramitaro admits that her knowledge about health insurance was limited. “I understood the basics, but didn’t have in-depth knowledge,” says Ciaramitaro, hired full-time in October 2016. This motivated her to do research and become more informed about her options. “Health insurance is a very personal thing, so I had to be able to identify what would work best for me,” says Ciaramitaro. Convenience played a big role in her choice. “For me, it was important to have flexibility with referrals and choice in who treats me,” she says. “So I decided to move forward with a PPO plan.”
Both recent college graduates, Martinez and Ciaramitaro quickly learned the value of being informed about health care. “The earlier you get the information you need, the better off you will be,” says Ciaramitaro. “Even if you stay on your parents’ coverage until you’re 26, there’s value in asking questions early.”
For Martinez, it’s all about peace of mind. “I didn’t heave health coverage in college and had to visit the emergency room to treat an issue caused by my migraines,” says Martinez. “I didn’t realize how important health coverage was until I received the bill.” From that moment on, she became committed to never going without medical coverage.
In the same boat as Martinez and Ciaramitaro? Here are some of their tips for how young people can choose the right coverage for their needs:
- Get educated about health care. Understanding health insurance can be tricky, so it’s important to be well-informed. Learn about common insurance terms (words like premiums and copays can be confusing!) and the types of medical professionals you may visit as a member.
- Ask plan-specific questions. With so many options, it’s best to speak with someone who can give you in-depth plan information. Consult with your employer’s HR team, older relatives or Blue Cross to get the information you need.
- Be honest about your needs. Someone who only gets an annual physical will probably choose a different plan than someone with a chronic condition. Think about what you need and what plan features will allow you to make the most of your coverage.
For more tips and advice on finding the best health care for you, visit these other blogs:
- A Guide for Recent Grads: Should You Stay on Your Parent’s Health Insurance?
- Four Health Insurance Options for the Young and Healthy
- 3 Practical Reasons Why Young People Need Health Insurance
Photo Credit: Christina Morillo