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Instead of a computer or a car, parents looking for a useful gift for a new college grad may want to consider health insurance.

New college graduates and their parents are often surprised to learn that many health insurance plans stop providing coverage to adult children through a parent's plan even when they are living at home.

Typically, most adult children who are students will lose their coverage when they attain a certain age, graduate or are no longer attending school on a full-time basis. Since most of these new college graduates won't have coverage until after they have found a job, many find themselves falling through a gap in coverage.

The number of young adults who fall into this category can be significant. According to a 2002 Census Bureau report, 18-to-24-year-olds are the least likely age group to have health insurance coverage.

Some find an effective way to address this need is with a type of product called temporary or short-term medical insurance. Such policies are designed to fill short gaps in health insurance coverage and usually cover periods ranging from one to six months. Exact length of coverage may vary by state and company.

For example, Assurant Health -a company that helped to pioneer the concept of short-term coverage-offers policies that typically cover periods of 30 to 185 days. Generally, this type of plan is more affordable than permanent insurance plans because the insurer is taking less risk.

Because temporary policies are usually designed to cover the unexpected, most do not include coverage for preventive care, physicals, immunizations, dental or eye care. Also, temporary policies generally do not cover pre-existing conditions.

While typical customers for short-term medical insurance are graduating students no longer covered by a family plan, but not yet covered by an employer's group plan, the policy may also be of interest to others. People changing jobs or making a transition to a new career, or new employees facing a short waiting period before becoming eligible for an employer's group insurance plan, may find that it fills a need.




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