In a few months I will turn 26 and no longer be eligible to be covered under my parents' health insurance plan. I work as a special education teacher, but am 1099 so no benefits. I make too much money to qualify for any low income insurance plans (I live in NYC if that helps) but spend nearly half each month on student loans! I can't afford a $500 premium, and there's no point in paying a $200 premium if it comes with a $10,000 deductible because assuming nothing horrible happens in the future, I'm not going to spend $10,000 on doctor visits. I don't feel comfortable not having that insurance though as I'm prone to upper respiratory infections and really don't want to have to pay for a hospital visit out of pocket if I get pneumonia because I didn't get antibiotics for an infection in time . . .
That was a bit rambling, but I hope it makes sense. Does anyone know what my options are?
I think it's really great that you are planning ahead *before* you lose coverage. So many people don't do that and it makes things so much harder.
I don't think you should dismiss the high-deductible health plan so quickly. In your case, it might be the best way to go. The maximum for an individual's deductible is less than $6,000. You can also open a Health Savings Account, which is a pre-tax account that you can use for any authorized, reimbursed medical expenses, such as prescriptions or doctor visits that go toward your deductible (along with a lot of other things).
Think about it, let's say you'd be paying $200 less a month with a higher deductible, that's $2,400 a year. Do you spend more than that on medical stuff? Probably not. Most people only spend about $500 on average, which wouldn't even be enough to meet a normal deductible. But if something bad does happen, like you get pneumonia and need to go to the hospital or you hurt yourself and need physical therapy, then you're covered at the higher end of your medical expenses. And you can put the money you save on your premiums away for a rainy day.
I think you should sit down with a health insurance agent in your area that deals with a lot of different plans and talk about your options for deductibles, co-pays, co-insurance (the part you pay and the part the insurance company pays after you've met your deductible), HSAs, all that stuff. See if the agent who deals with your parents' health plan would sit and talk with you. Or you could find someone else in your area by asking friends or family, or do an internet search for health insurance agencies.
The most important thing is to not go without insurance because things happen when you least expect it. I know this first hand. If you have to go on COBRA (if that's an option) for few months in the mean time until you can get individual coverage, it might be worth it.
When i was renewing my health insurance last year I did some extensive research because, similarly to you, i couldn't afford to pay a lot. I was also relocating so needed international health insurance and in the end I went with Now Health. They were reasonably priced and really helpful so you should check them and their flexible plans out.