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By Jim Donovan

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — With the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, the health insurance landscape has changed drastically since the Class of 2014 was freshman. This year’s college graduates have a lot to navigate, especially if they haven’t yet landed a full-time job. 3 On Your Side Consumer Reporter Jim Donovan sorts through some of the basics.

A lot has happened on the health care front since 2010, and when exchanges under the Affordable Care Act finally opened last fall, it also opened a lot of new options for this year’s college graduates.

Most campus insurance plans will run until at least the end of the summer. After that, graduates should weigh whether to stay on their parents’ health insurance plan. Under the Affordable Care Act, young people can now do so until they are 26, with flexibility in that time frame.

Nancy Metcalf is a senior editor with Consumer Reports. She says, “You might take a job right out of school, go on your employers health plan, and in a couple years decide to quit, go back to grad school — you can go right back on the parents’ health plan, as long as you’re still under 26.”

Moving to a new state or city, or losing school coverage, can be considered “life qualifying events” under the Affordable Care Act, triggering a “special enrollment period.”

The next milestone to consider is landing a full-time job. Metcalf says, “You always have the option of buying your own insurance, but it’s the rare employer insurance plan that’s not going to offer a better deal, for the simple reason that if you go through an employer, the employer is going to pay probably most of your premium.”

The next open enrollment period for the Healthcare Marketplace begins on November 15th for coverage beginning January 1st, 2015 — plenty of time to consider your options and eligibility.

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