Remember sunscreen -- and your health insurance

Health insurance

Tess Vigeland: Most college seniors have tossed their caps into the air or will within the next couple of weeks. After that, it's time to head into that 20-something space we just talked about. Get a job. It's also time to figure out insurance. Before graduation season, the White House sent letters to university presidents and student body leaders, reminding them that the health care reform law allows students to stay on their parents' plan until they're 26.

From the Marketplace health desk at WHYY, Gregory Warner has more.


Gregory Warner: Maybe they can slip it into the commencement address.

Student speaker at graduation: Graduation is not the end; it's the beginning. Do not follow the well worn path in life. But do sign up for health insurance under your parents' plan.

Applause

Speaker: Thanks mom!

Before the health care reform law, people had to leave their parents' insurance after graduation.

Aaron Smith is founder of the advocacy group Young Invincibles. He created a "graduation toolkit" to help today's seniors navigate their new rights and its dull vocabulary.

Aaron Smith: Information like "what is a deductible?", "what are premiums?" is valuable information for young people to know about, because they've never bought insurance before.

Insurance analysts say the outreach is working. Lots of young adults are signing up on their parents' plans. Still, people in their 20s are almost twice as likely as older adults to be uninsured.

Martin Gaynor: I thought I was bullet-proof when I was 18 or 20.

Martin Gaynor is a professor of economics and health policy at Carnegie Mellon University. He says that the success of health care reform law depends in part on changing young people's attitude toward insurance. Because when today's graduates turn 26 and go off their parents' plans, they'll either have insurance through work or they'll be legally required to buy it for themselves.

Gaynor: It will either have to be that people just don't want to break the law, or that they're already accustomed to being part of health insurance and for any insurance to work, you have to have everybody in the pool.

The more young healthy people sign up, he says, the cheaper premiums will be, for everybody. In other words, graduates, you are the future -- of health care reform.

In Philadelphia, I'm Gregory Warner for Marketplace Money.

About the author

Gregory Warner is a senior reporter covering the economics and business of healthcare for the entire Marketplace portfolio.

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