Here's a piece that's billed as detailing how young adults are shortchanging their health care, but it's really about moving from college to the workforce and how people should maximize their work benefits during this time of life. The piece is courtesy of ARA Content:
Juggling Expenses and Making Ends Meet; New National Survey Shows Young Workers May Be Shortchanging Their Health Care
Young adults entering the workforce are faced with a juggling act of searching for jobs and calculating living expenses while trying to factor health benefits into the equation. A new national survey reveals that when it comes to their financial priorities, today’s young workforce is focused on cell phone bills, credit card payments and savings accounts – health benefits are not a top concern.
The recent survey of more than 1,000 employed men and women ages 18 to 24 found that 44 percent would rather pay their monthly cell phone bill than a health benefits premium. While young adults are taking some of the right steps, health benefits must be a consideration for the fastest-growing group of uninsured Americans. Roughly 30 percent of this population is uninsured in the United States according to the 2000 Census.
In response, Aetna and the Financial Planning Association (FPA) have launched “All About the Benefits,” an educational program designed to help young workers make health benefits a priority by providing the knowledge and confidence needed to make informed health benefits decisions. The program includes an interactive website, , that provides tips, free videos, a podcast and audio profiles to inform decisions and provide entertainment along the way. The new program is an expansion of “Plan for Your Health,” an existing public education program sponsored by Aetna and FPA.
Allaboutthebenefits.com guides visitors through typical experiences with information and real world examples – graduating from high school or college, interviewing and starting a new job and budgeting for new expenses.
Ready for the Real World? Tips for Today’s Young Workforce
- School’s Out Forever! Now What? Typically, you're covered under your parents' plan until age 19 – and that's only if you're a full-time student. It’s time to bridge from your parents’ plan to your own. Don't despair if your parents can't help you pay for it – there are other health benefits options available. If you’re headed straight into the working world, your new employer may offer a benefits package that includes health insurance. If you just can’t get enough of learning and are headed to graduate school, many of them offer health plans that are run by the school’s health center or in partnership with private insurers. If all else fails, you can sign up for temporary coverage or purchase an individual health benefits plan.
- Let the Job Hunt Begin. While it might be more exciting to hear about a company’s vacation package and other add-ons, you should also keep in mind as you’re interviewing and accepting a job offer that a health benefits package is incredibly valuable. Find out if an employer offers health benefits to new employees, how soon you’re eligible for benefits and how much it will cost you. Having this conversation with an employer upfront will allow you to see the full scope of your health benefits options.
- Budgeting for Your Health. Choosing a health plan can be confusing for anyone and it takes a little bit of work to find a health benefits package that fits your medical and financial needs. Try to decide what elements are most important to you and go from there. It’s very important for you to determine how much will come out of your paycheck each month for your health benefits premiums to avoid being surprised when you get your paycheck. You’ll also want to consider how many specialists you typically visit in a year, any pre-existing or chronic medical conditions and how much you usually spend on prescription medicines.
- Work It! How to Enroll. One of the most important things you need to know after you've gotten a job is that you have a limited time to sign up for a health plan. Check out the options available to you and make a choice of plans by your employer's deadline. Once you have chosen a plan, be sure you understand when your coverage starts. If there is a waiting period, you might have to sign up for a temporary plan. If you have questions, go to your HR department or check your employer's website since your company selects the options available.
- Raising Your Health Benefits I.Q. Health benefits aren't only important when you get sick – they're also important to keep you healthy. In fact, many plans offer extra incentives to do just that. Make the most of your health benefits plan and check to see if your plan offers coverage for annual check-ups, discounts for exercise programs, flu shots, mental health services and vitamins.
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This piece also details the benefits of having benefits:
Not having health benefits can really hurt financially. Let’s say you fall and break your arm while skiing. Your total bill for prescriptions, a stay in the recovery room, X-rays and various other health care costs could add up to $8,000. Imagine having to pay for that out of your own pocket. Taking a gamble by not having health benefits jeopardizes your health and your wallet.
A few thoughts from me on this:
1. Guilty as charged. I too under-valued my benefits when I was new to the workforce. It seems like a curse of being young. ;-)
2. That said, ignoring your benefits (at any age) can have big, bad financial complications. Take a few minutes to put some thought into selecting the benefits best for you. It could save you some big $$$$$$$$.