Health Insurance for College Students

September 22, 2021

Health Insurance for College Students

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Although many students find college exciting, it can also bring stress. Unfortunately, stress negatively impacts health. Anxious college students may experience immune system suppression. They also carry higher risk for physical illnesses and psychological conditions. On the positive side, when students feel their best, they do better in school.

Healthcare providers often catch health issues before they turn into serious conditions. So, investing in health insurance means investing in longevity and quality of life. With that aim, some schools offer on-site clinics for checkups and immunizations.

/In this guide, we discuss options for student health insurance. We focus on options for both dependents and independents. For more information, see our longer guide on choosing a college health insurance plan.

Health Insurance Options

When choosing college health insurance, a student should think about their tax filing status. Their guardian's status also plays a role. College students whose parents claim them on their taxes qualify as dependents. Learners over 24 or those who support themselves typically qualify as independent students. In this section, we discuss the student health insurance options for both.

Dependents

Tax-dependent students can stay on their parent's insurance plan until age 26. Learners who go to school in a different state from their guardians still qualify. However, finding an in-network provider in some areas could pose a challenge.

Options do exist for dependents who want their own health insurance plan. Since most schools require insurance, they also offer school-sponsored plans. Some schools let students roll the cost into a tuition bill.

Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, some students get a subsidy for insurance. They can enroll in a plan through the Health Insurance Marketplace. Dependent students must enroll with their parents. Learners who decline coverage from a parent's insurer do not qualify for a subsidy.

Independents

Independents enjoy many options for student health insurance coverage. Even learners under 24 may qualify as tax independent. However, tax independents can stay on their parent or guardian's insurance plan until they turn 26. They qualify despite marital status or eligibility for a plan through their employer.

Independents can enroll in a school-sponsored health insurance plan. Some schools feature on-site clinics that offer low co-pays for students with insurance.

People who file as an independent student can enroll in a plan through the Health Insurance Marketplace. Unlike dependent students, they do not need to register with a parent or guardian.

Health Insurance Providers

Deciding between school-sponsored health insurance or an independent plan takes some thought. The premium costs and co-pays vary largely between insurance types. Additionally, not every plan covers preexisting conditions. We highlight the pros and cons of each type below. However, we suggest that students research their specific options further before picking a plan.

School-Sponsored Plans

A New York Times article cites data on school-sponsored health insurance. Elizabeth Marks, a strategy consultant for Academic HealthPlans, says plans cost $2,000-$4,000, renewing each academic year.

Some school-sponsored plans cover limited services at on-campus clinics. They usually pay for basic tests and even dermatological or gynecological services. If the student needs care from a specialist or hospital, the plan may not cover all the bills. Learners should always read the specifics on a school-sponsored plan before enrolling.

Some schools use third-party insurance providers to offer these plans. For example, Missouri State University uses edusure to offer academic healthcare.

Independent Plans

The government, employers, and private insurance providers offer these plans. According to eHealth, the average national cost for an independent plan costs $158 monthly for a short-term plan. A major medical plan averages $231 per month.

Some independent student health insurance plans choose which providers they cover services for. A few independent plans feature a low premium. Luckily, some employers pay for this premium.

Just like school-sponsored plans, independent plans vary in quality. Applicants should read the co-pay details and check if their provider qualifies as in-network.

Questions About Student Health Insurance Plans

true Q. Can I get health insurance as a student?

Dependents under age 26 can use their parent's insurance plan. Or, learners can get a plan through their school or the Health Insurance Marketplace.

true Q. Can students qualify for Medicaid?

Medicaid qualifications vary by state. In some states, students qualify based on income. Other states only offer Medicaid to students with disabilities.

true Q. How can I get health insurance without a job?

Learners can apply for school-sponsored health insurance. Or, they can apply for a plan through the Health Insurance Marketplace.

true Q. What do you do if you can't afford health insurance?

Students on a tight budget should visit healthcare.gov. This site helps people locate affordable plans. For example, Medicaid provides free or very affordable healthcare.

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AffordableCollegesOnline.org is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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