Regular tips and advice to help you better navigate young adulthood from someone who had to learn some of this stuff (way too much of this stuff) the hard way.
Take It From Me…You need health insurance (or at least a viable plan just in case you get sick, injured, or have other health-related issues arise)
With everything that happens at the end of the year, one of the most important things for you to do is make sure you’re fully covered by medical, dental, and vision insurance for the next year. While insurance can be costly, especially if someone else’s insurance does not cover you, such as a parent/guardian/spouse, your job, your school, etc., having preventative coverage can save you thousands of dollars should you get seriously injured, have a severe or chronic illness, or have another medical situation arise. Regular medical attention and having access to preventative services can also help prevent more serious conditions down the line. You only get one body and one life, so here are some ways to stay on top of your physical, reproductive, and mental health and prevent or counteract more severe issues down the line.
- If you’re under twenty-six and unmarried, you may already be covered by a parent’s, guardian’s, or spouse’s insurance plan. If this is the case for 2022, you may be good to go. I say “maybe” because your coverage depends on that person keeping their job throughout 2022, you not turning twenty-six at some point in the next twelve months, or other situations like familial or relational estrangement or trying to seek reproductive/gender confirmation services. If one or more of these situations arise, you may lose your coverage at some point. Do what you can to schedule appointments as soon as you can, so if this does happen and try to find out some alternatives just in case you lose your coverage.
- If you work for an employer who provides health insurance, you too may be good to go as long as you remain with your employer for the year. However, depending on where you work, you may not receive all the coverage you need. Double-check what your coverage provides to see you’ll find yourself with any coverage gaps.
If you are in or plan to join the military, you will have health insurance covered through your service. If you have any ongoing concerns or require specialized care, please make sure to speak to your recruiter or health service provider to make sure you’re covered or at least know where you can go to get the care you need.
- Four-year colleges and universities also provide coverage to their students. If your school offers Student Health Insurance Plans or something similar, check your school’s website or your campus’s Student Health Center to see what plans and services they offer (if you’re an international student, many schools require this or a similar plan and part of your tuition goes to take care of this service)
- If you’re over twenty-six, are not covered by someone else, and do not have an on-campus plan, you can still apply for a plan through the Affordable Care Act’s open-enrollment period for medical, dental, and vision insurance until January 15th (your coverage will begin on February 1).
If you won’t be covered and are not able to afford a plan through the ACA:
- Many four-year colleges and universities have health clinics on campus available to see students, provide physicals, give vaccinations, and more. If they’re not able to treat or provide the medical care you need, they can also refer you to off-campus medical centers close to your campus.
- If your needs are more mental than physical, many colleges and universities also offer counseling and referral services for students needing mental health care.
- If you live in a city with a medical school like Austin, Houston (UH and UTHSC), DFW (TCU/UNTHSC should start providing care soon), or San Antonio, you can apply to become a patient at the clinical center where medical students train. This may take some time depending on demand and the services you need, but this is another lower-cost way for you to stay on top of your medical health.
- Depending on where you live, there may also be free clinics, low-cost clinics, or other medical or mental-health clinics that provide care for those who may not be able to afford a primary care physician or able to go to free-standing medical clinics or hospitals. You can Google a search like affordable medical services and add your town/city (affordable clinic + Austin for example) to see where affordable medical services near you are located.
- ACC Eastview has a dental hygienist program, and they also offer preventative dental care for patients. For a list of other schools that provide similar services, click here. Googling “low-cost dental exam” may also lead to care that works for you.
- If you live in or near Dallas, Houston, or San Antonio, you can become a patient at the dental school in these cities.
- This link provides information on where you can find low-cost eye exams and glasses should you need them. Googling “low-cost vision exam” may also lead to care that works for you.
- If you live in or near Houston or San Antonio, you can apply to become a patient at the optometry school located in these cities.
- According to Georgetown University’s McCourt School of Public Policy, approximately 53% of adults ages 18-34 take prescription medication. With doctors prescribing medicine to ease the side effects of emotional, mental, and physical issues, affording these life-saving and quality-of-life-increasing medications are also essential.
- GoodRx and WellRx provide coupons and approximate pricing for different pharmacies in your area to know the price and discounted price for the medication you need before ordering.
- Some medications have generic equivalents that provide similar benefits for a portion of the cost of name-brand medicine. Checking to see if your medication has this option can also save you quite a bit of money over time. (Note: make sure you check with your doctor first.)
- If you happen to be on Medicare, on Disability Benefits through the Social Security Administration, or have a chronic, long-term condition, there may be additional prescription assistance for you. Check in with your caseworker or primary care physician for further information on getting your prescriptions at a lower cost to you.