You’re young and probably healthy, but good medical care is important at any age. Health insurance makes sure you can get it without blowing your budget. Consider the following coverage options for your college years.
Stay On Your Parents’ Policy
The Affordable Care Act (ACA) lets students under 26 stay on their parents’ private or employer-funded health insurance policy. They should contact their insurer to arrange this. It’s the most affordable option for your medical coverage, but there are some limitations worth considering.
Health care policies are usually location-specific. If you’re studying out of state, finding participating health care providers may be difficult. You could schedule routine checkups for school vacations, but what would you do if emergencies arise? Sharing a plan with your parents could also compromise your privacy. Your parents will know what medical services you seek when they receive the explanation of benefits. Make sure you are comfortable with this.
Enroll in a Student Health Insurance Plan
Many colleges have student health insurance plans. These can be a great option if you’re a full-time student studying out of state, estranged from your parents, too old for coverage under their policy, or you’re concerned about your privacy. You can use your financial aid or student loans for these plans to avoid stretching your budget, although they can be more expensive than similar policies purchased through the health insurance exchange. You also won’t get government tax credits.
Read the policy carefully so you know what you’re covered for and when you’re covered. Some plans don’t meet the ACA’s minimum standards. This won’t concern some students with minimal health care needs but could impact others. Some plans only cover full-time students during the school year, leaving them exposed during the summer break.
While some schools require students to register for student health insurance plans, others sign them up automatically. If you don’t want or need the plan, you’ll need to prove you have adequate health coverage and sign a waiver. Check what your school does to make sure you’re only paying for the policy you want.
Buy a Regular Health Insurance Policy
Buying a regular health insurance policy through the ACA marketplace is another option worth considering. This will give you the most control over your health care coverage and privacy, although it will usually cost you more out of pocket. Note though that you can’t get your own individual plan if you could be covered by your parents’. If you’d like your own health insurance plan, visit HealthCare.gov or your state’s health insurance marketplace website.
Students earning up to 138 percent of the Federal Poverty Level and living in an eligible state qualify for Medicaid. Medicaid covers care at selected health care providers without any premiums. With little to no copays, depending on the provider and service, Medicaid helps students get health care on a budget. If you’re eligible, you can apply via HealthCare.gov or your state’s health insurance marketplace website.
No matter what you choose, make sure you don’t neglect health insurance during your college years. Comprehensive medical coverage will make sure you get the health care you need for less while you’re studying.