Real Life 101: College Students Not Feeling so Invincible -- Health Insurance Outranks Independence in New Survey

After Graduation, 62% Prefer Living With Parents to Being Uninsured; 31% Willing to Give up Apartment; 19% Willing to Give up Car; 16% Willing to Give up Health Insurance to Save Money

MOUNTAIN VIEW, CA -- (Marketwire) -- 05/14/09 -- College students are often called "young invincibles" by insurers, in reference to the presumption that they don't value health insurance due to a sense of invincibility. But those perceptions are changing, according to a national survey of college students conducted by global insights firm Kelton Research and sponsored by eHealthInsurance (

The survey also found college students to be very optimistic about their job prospects after graduation, despite a recent forecast which shows that employers plan to hire 22 percent fewer college graduates(1).

While student's rated health insurance as the most important workplace benefit (29%), few (17%) could accurately identify one or more of the costs and benefits associated with an average plan. Moreover, if times get tough, most students (70%) would expect their parents to pick up the tab for their health insurance until they found a full-time job.

For a complete summary of survey data and methodology, go to:

The key findings of the survey include:

Despite a challenging economy, college students are optimistic about the future:

--  Within in the first six months after graduating, almost half of    college students (44%) expect to be working at a job that matches their    qualifications.--  Many college students are also counting on their prospective employers    to provide for them -- nearly nine in ten (85%) believe their first "real    world" job will provide them with a health plan.--  Another 56% said that they would have health insurance the day after    they graduate from college.    

Students are pragmatic in today's economy and willing to make sacrifices:

--  Students value health insurance benefits (29%) and retirement savings    options (15%) over other expected job benefits like vacation time (12%) and    gym memberships (6%).--  Less than one in five (16%) would part with their health insurance if    money was tight after finishing school; cell phones (13%) and access to the    web (12%) are just as important to hang onto. Other expenses like cable TV    (48%) would be much easier to do without.--  Although many undergrads prefer a new car (26%) or a vacation as a    potential college graduation present, more of them would be happy with the    gift of health insurance (14%) than big-ticket electronics like TVs and    computers (8%) or smaller gadgets such as a cell phone or GPS (2%).--  Many like the idea of keeping their coverage independent from their    job. More than six in ten (63%) would prefer to find their own health    insurance plan and keep it, regardless of where they work, instead of    switching plans each time they change a jobs.    

College students face a steep learning curve on the basics of health insurance:

While most students value health insurance, the majority were ill-informed when it came to identifying costs and benefits:

--  Less than half felt they could confidently define basic health    insurance terminology. Only 29% understood the meaning of a premium, 44%    knew the meaning of a deductible, and fewer could explain co-insurance    (15%) and annual out of pocket maximums (23%).--  College students assume that a number of key benefits -- such as    prescription drug coverage (61%) and maternity needs (40%) -- will be    provided for them on any individual health insurance plan, when in many    cases they are not automatically included.--  Students also expected average individual health insurance policies to    cost nearly two-and-a-half times more than the industry average ($268    perceived vs. $115 actual for women and $98 actual for men(2)).    

Parents are paying now and may pay later:

--  Three in five (60%) college students are currently covered either by    their parents' health insurance plan or a health insurance plan paid for by    their parents.--  After graduating, though, if push came to shove, the majority of    students (62%) would prefer to move back in with their parents than go    without health insurance.--  Parents may also be in for a shock when it comes to funding students'    insurance after graduation. If they are unable to pay for coverage on their    own, the majority of students (70%) feel their parents are likely to buy    their health insurance.--  Some students value independence less than many may expect, as more    would give up their own apartment (31%) and their own car (19%) than their    health insurance coverage.    

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(1) National Association of Colleges and Employer's (NACE) Job Outlook 2009 Spring Update

(2) Average premiums and benefits listed are from August, 2007 based on plans purchased through eHealthInsurance active as of that date. More information and a complete methodology of the study can be found in eHealth, Inc.'s 2008 report: Cost and Benefits of Individual and Family Health Insurance Plans:

About eHealth, Inc.:

eHealth, Inc. (NASDAQ: EHTH) is the parent company of eHealthInsurance, the nation's leading online source of health insurance for individuals, families and small businesses. Through the company's website,, consumers can get quotes from leading health insurance carriers, compare plans side by side, and apply for and purchase health insurance. eHealthInsurance offers thousands of health plans underwritten by more than 180 of the nation's health insurance companies. eHealthInsurance is licensed to sell health insurance in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. eHealthInsurance and eHealth are registered trademarks of eHealthInsurance Services, Inc.

For media inquiries, please contact:
Nate Purpura
eHealth, Inc.

Kris Kraves
Cogenta Communications for eHealth, Inc.