Do we ever stop paying for our kids, even after they reach adulthood? Many parents ask themselves this question, and now health insurance gets added to that list.

Healthcare reform now lets post-college adults use their parents’ health insurance, as long as the parents are willing to pay. The dependent age has been raised to 26 to cover the large number of uninsured young adults, many of whom are unemployed due to a slowly recovering economy.

However, paying for college impacts the financial well-being of families, and there are not always discretionary funds to help cover the health insurance needs of young adults. Adult dependents can be costly when added to a family insurance plan. The student may be coming off his or her college-mandated health insurance coverage, and could be left with no coverage, especially if unemployed or under-employed with only a part-time job.

A recent survey conducted by eHealthInsurance shows the varying views parents and their graduating children when it comes to funding post-college health insurance. The results are stark. Nearly 40 percent of parents do not plan to extend health insurance to their adult children.

But there are options.

Along with employer options, there are several paths post-college adults and their families can pursue for health insurance coverage, including healthcare plans that can serve as bridge to an employer-sponsored healthcare plan.

Having no insurance is simply not an option. Young adults are active and social, which create expected, though not often acknowledged, risks. Playing sports, traveling, exposure to others who may be ill – these and many other scenarios may not be top-of-mind for a 25-year-old, but that doesn’t make the risks any less real.

  • Get a job — certainly easier said than done in today’s economy, but an employer-sponsored plan will provide direct access to healthcare and remove parental burden to cover this expense. Of course, there will be deductibles, co-pays and the young adult’s regular contribution to the coverage, so Mom and Ded might be able to stray too far.
  • In many states, temporary or short-term medical policies are available, which are often more affordable than adding a dependent to a family health plan. They can be purchased for a single month or in many cases up to a year.
  • Individual health plans with higher deductibles can be an affordable alternative to protect young adults should they become seriously ill or get severely injured.
  • Online tools help families search for the best rates and most appropriate coverage.
  • Third-party companies, organizations and other places that the young adult may be interact with – their bank, social club or networking organization – may provide access to affordable insurance.
  • eHealthInsurance.com, an online source of health insurance for individuals, families and small businesses.
  • College alumni associations, which often offer special programs and pricing for graduates.
  • GradGuard.com, a provider of insurance services that makes buying insurance easier and more affordable for young adults.

Open family discussions around this issue are important. Insurance is not a lifestyle choice, it’s a life-stage risk necessity for young adults. And due to healthcare reform, it’s now a family conversation and decision following college.

Co-founder and president of Next Generation Insurance Group (NGI), Bill Suneson is one of the nation’s foremost affinity sales and marketing leaders. NGI creates insurance solutions that fulfill the needs of underserved consumer groups, such as young adults, students, graduates and their families. Suneson has nearly 20 years of sales and business development experience, and a track record of forging profitable affinity marketing strategies for Fortune 500 brands and start-up companies. Suneson maintains a national license to sell Property/Casualty and Life/Health Insurance and holds an Accredited Advisor in Insurance (AAI) designation. He is a member of the Professional Insurance Marketing Association and Inter-Company Marketing Group.

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