As a senior at Indiana University, I feel very fortunate. This is an amazing time in my life and I'm trying to make the most of it - taking the classes I want, hanging out with my friends, and counting down the days until graduation.
But at the same time, my friends and I feel a sense of nervousness about the future. Graduation is exciting, but it's also a ticking clock - that's when we'll need to go out into the world, find jobs and start paying back those student loans, all while unemployment for recent college grads is at 9%, the highest it's been in 25 years.
The good news is that now we can worry a little bit less about the challenge of finding health insurance.
Today, the first provisions of the Health Care Reform Act go into effect, including several that are going to help young people get the health care coverage that we need.
You can read all about the new law in the Student PIRGs' Young Person's Guide to Health Insurance - it has practical tips on how to get started in your search for health care, as well as information on what the new provisions mean for young people.
Thanks to the Health Care Reform Act, I will now have the option to stay on my parents' health insurance until I'm 26. This is going to be a huge benefit for many young people. Given how hard it can be these days to find an entry-level job that includes health care, I know a lot of students who will be glad to have this option.
Plus, it just makes sense. I've had health care through my parents' plan for my entire life. Without this new law, I'd lose my health insurance when I graduate. If we're willing to keep paying for it, then why should my coverage through them end just because I'm a little older? And having to go out and find the same policy just for myself would be way more expensive.
The new law also helps protect young people from losing their coverage. As of today, no insurer can drop your policy when you get sick just because of paperwork errors. You will have the right to appeal any denial of care. And no person under 19 can be denied coverage because of pre-existing conditions (that protection will be extended to everyone in 2014).
These are real benefits for young people and I want to make sure students hear about them. This new law affects us all, so we should know what's in it. I'm going to be passing out the guide on campus, and forwarding it to my friends and family.
You can help spread the word. Send your friends a copy of the guide and let them know that at least one of their post-graduate worries is figured out.
You can download the Student PIRGs' Young Person's Guide to Health Insurance at http://www.studentpirgs.org/healthcareguide.