How I Transitioned Off of My Parents’ Health Insurance Without the World Ending

Ever since I graduated high school, I've dreaded the day I would have to transition off of my parents' health insurance plan. But, by using some important resources, I discovered that getting my own health insurance wasn't as scary as I thought.

| 5 min read
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Wendy Caroline
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Today is the day I have been dreading … the day that I've always felt like the world was going to end. Today is the day that I transitioned off of my parents' health insurance.

But, let's back up a little ...

When I was a senior in high school, I knew that I would have to choose what I was going to do with the rest of my life. I have never been a planner -- not because of my cystic fibrosis or anything, it's just not my personality. I had a great passion for music, but I also had people left and right guiding me away from performance because it wasn't a very stable career path.

There's this whole big thing about following your dreams and not letting your disease control your life and blah, blah, blah. I would not have made it in the music performance field, though. I know that now and I have made my peace with it. I also knew I DID NOT want to teach music. My patience is nowhere near teaching level.

But, one thing I did know was that I HAD to go to college. The rule was that if I wasn't a full-time student, then I couldn't be on my parents' health insurance. And then where would I be? So, with the guidance of my wonderful teachers I decided to major in music business. This path would allow me to follow my passion of music, but give myself some security. So, off I went.

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My mom, Lori, and I.

Fast forward a couple of years to my second year of college. I was doing alright in school. However, I was "burning the candles at both ends" as my mom would love to say. I was getting pretty sick and my health was taking a toll. I had no idea what I was going to do because I knew I couldn't keep going at this rate.

Luckily for me, however, this was right around the time when the rules of insurance changed to allow children to stay on their parents' insurance plans until the age of 26 (instead of 24) without constraints. This meant that I didn't have to be a full-time student. I ended up dropping down to part-time for two semesters and getting back on track. A few more years went by, and I eventually ended up graduating college after taking only one semester off, and the rest full-time.

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My parents and me at my college graduation.

Now, we get to the real world … where I had to find a full-time job with good benefits. That's all fine and dandy, but I was already 24 (as opposed to 22) by the time I finished college. That left me with less than two years to network, find a job, and establish myself before going off of my parents' insurance. It's something that freaked me out for quite a while.

Eventually, I landed in my perfect professional space: a local restaurant with the most caring people I have ever met, working with local musicians, and doing what I love. Restaurant management is not a glamorous job, but I am happy with what I'm doing. Having a career that I enjoy is much more important to me than having one that pays a lot. (We can chat about that in another post, though.) But, that's when my fear started coming from a place of the unknown and financial stability. Instead of worrying about having a job that would provide the benefits I so desperately needed to live, I started worrying about the transition.

Fortunately, I had help. My social worker from my CF care team took the time to look over each detail of my parents' existing insurance benefits and explain them to me. A wonderful woman at Cystic Fibrosis Foundation Compass spent an entire hour on the phone with me making sure I chose the best plan for my needs. Every technician I spoke with at my various pharmacies patiently answered my plethora of random questions. My mom taught me several of her tips and tricks that she's learned throughout the years of managing my health. My boss and our insurance representatives kept me informed on the progress of my insurance application. And finally, my fiancé supported me through months of reworking our budget and letting me fret over every penny to make sure my mind was at ease.

After spending the better part of four years worrying about transitioning off of my parents' health insurance, it turns out that the day I feared was just another day. 

The world didn't end.

I have now been on my own insurance for three months. My CF care team has continued to put all of their efforts into making sure that I am comfortable and educated, even after I have technically transitioned. I have continued to utilize CF Foundation Compass to talk about assistance programs.

The fears that I had leading up to this moment were completely justified. CF is completely unpredictable and growing up is hard. But, there are resources out there; use them.

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Wendy is a young adult with CF who is finding her way in the world. She is a passionate writer and advocate for CF awareness, and is currently training her service dog, Finn, for when she needs a little extra support throughout the day. In her free time, Wendy enjoys music, traveling, and reading, and credits her CF for giving her more drive to love life and all it has to offer.  Follow Wendy on her blog, The Living, Breathing Wendy.

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