Ah, the joys of graduation; a cap and gown, a ceremony, presents and maybe even a party. It’s about you and what you’ve achieved after years of hard work. But, will you have health insurance even if you have a job lined up?

In this country, health insurance is tied to the private institutions in our lives such as families, universities and jobs. But what happens when you’re between institutions?

“At some companies benefits can start on day one of employment, others have you wait a 90-day probationary period before your benefits will begin,” says Alissa Nial, a recruiter with Connexus Corporation (connexuscorp.com).

Thus, even if you’re lucky enough to have a job lined up in this economy, you may have at least three months to wait before your job picks up your health insurance. So, during this probationary period or while you’re looking for work, try to get back to a private institution on whose insurance tail you can ride.

“[If possible], get on an existing group plan – could be through a spouse’s employer for example,” advises Karl D. Susman, CIC, API, AIS, insurance broker in Los Angeles (susmaninsurance.com). “Or, you can try to get back on a parent’s policy.”

If neither of these is possible, you should still shop around for a basic plan.

“These types of policies will typically carry a high deductible, say $5,000, and will then pay 100 percent of your medical costs while you’re hospitalized. This saves you from the possibility of a small injury putting you in debt for the rest of your life. [These types of] plans can be cheap, even in the sub $100 range depending on where they live,” advises Susman.

OK, so you have a plan for your head, shoulders, knees and toes … but what about your eyes, ears, mouth and nose? Take care of yourself!

“One of the best ways to stay ahead of ear, nose and throat problems is daily use of nasal saline. It has been shown to flush out a lot of the debris that collects during the day, and also cuts down on bacteria, viruses and allergens. This can reduce colds, stuffy nose due to allergies, sinus infections and even ear infections,” says Nina L. Shapiro, MD, Associate Professor Pediatric Otolaryngology (Ear, Nose and Throat), UCLA School of Medicine (uclahealth.org/ninashapiro).

As for your mouth, you have to “brush regularly throughout the day and floss daily,” advises Kevin Barrett, DDS (KevinBarrettDDS.com). “Dentistry has always been viewed as a privileged medicine even though it is actually necessary. So, if you don’t have dental insurance you need to be proactive in your dental care. Make sure you know the situation of your mouth, go to a dentist for a cleaning and examination. In dentistry, you can get a pretty good picture of what you’ll need to do in the future and then make an action plan, which will keep you out of pain – in both your mouth and wallet. In medicine, you can break an arm tomorrow and need expensive medical attention – thankfully, this happens less often in dentistry, especially if you’re young and you take care of your mouth.”

With corporate America scaling back, it is important to figure out the best ounce of prevention for yourself so that you can avoid pain and suffering – and the necessary medical visits to abate these woes.