Seniors concerned with employment, health care

Health insurance is the second most concern for graduating seniors.
Megan Stroup / Graphic Designer

Seniors graduating from college choose health insurance as their second most sought after benefit when looking for a job, according to a 2008 study by Accenture, a global management consulting company. A salary or some form of compensation was the only benefit desired more in the study.

Although 85 percent of students chose health insurance as an important job benefit, 28 percent of 18- to 24-year-olds in the U.S. were without it in 2008, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

Student Health Center Director Susan Even said the state of the economy and the availability of jobs, especially for seniors graduating college, might be a large factor in the lack of young adults with health insurance.

"Since employers are the main source of health insurance for Americans, I would think that the tight job market would make it harder for new graduates to obtain health insurance," Even said.

Some employers allow employees to extend health insurance coverage for their children.

"Parents' employers will sometimes offer continuation of insurance at high premiums as part of COBRA provisions for graduated students," Even said. "However, this is for a limited time usually."

Senior Megan O'Leary said she's been able to use her parents' option for extended health care for children to her advantage.

"Since the economy's in bad shape I know some parents' health insurance that's provided by their employer has been extended for their kids," O'Leary said. "For instance, my parents' insurance was extended until I was 25, so I won't have to worry about that right after I graduate."

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 11 percent of citizens in the Midwest are without health insurance. That rate is better than the percentage of citizens in the West and South without health insurance, 16 and 18 percent, respectively.

The study by Accenture also said 71 percent of seniors graduating college were concerned the weakening economy would result in fewer available jobs upon their graduation and 73 percent said they had not found a post-graduation job a month before graduation.

Although almost three-quarters of students surveyed said they were concerned few jobs would be available, only 23 percent said they would compromise what they want from their job, including health care coverage, according to the study by Accenture.

But finding a job regardless of what benefits it might offer remains a top priority for some MU students.

"My parents' health insurance coverage extends until I graduate in a month," senior Courtney Cox said. "However, I'm more concerned with finding a job in general right now than I am with finding a job that offers health insurance."

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