How to Insure Your College Freshman

Clothes, check. Laptop, check.  Health insurance?  That’s something you definitely want to check on. A new school year is approaching, and your freshman will soon be off to college. But before your college student ventures out this fall, it’s important to check now that they have adequate health insurance coverage rather than waiting to look into it if and when an emergency happens.

Consider these health insurance options for your college-age son or daughter:

Staying on your family’s health plan, protected under health reform. If your college student is already on a family health plan, that could be the best option. Under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, children are entitled to stay on their parents’ plan until age 26. This can be especially beneficial for students who continue graduate studies or take time off.

However, if they go out of state to school and your plan only allows for in-network doctors, it could pose a costly problem to see an out-of-network doctor. In this case, it might be worth checking out individual health plans, school-sponsored health plans or student health plans.

Individual health plans are offered in many states at a low cost. An individual plan ensures that your college student can keep coverage regardless of their status at college. So, if they need to take a semester off, transfer schools, switch to part-time status, or a parent loses a job, they will keep their coverage under an individual health plan.

School- sponsored health plans are affordable and provide medical services on campus. Many colleges offer health insurance for students. The benefits of these plans vary from school to school, so check with the school’s admission office. Some of these plans are subsidized by the school, so they may be low cost. Some plans offer low premiums (monthly costs), but limit coverage. These plans may cover very basic medical care, but exclude other services.

Medicaid can help those who are not insured. If their parents do not have health coverage, some students can qualify for Medicaid based on family income. 

Look to the exchanges. Next year students will be able to buy a health plan through the health insurance marketplaces.  In addition, a recent federal guideline passed this month states that students who don’t enroll in the student health plan may still qualify for subsidized coverage on an exchange. According to the Department of Health and Human Services and the Treasury Department, under health reform, if their income is between 100 and 400 percent of the federal poverty level ($11,490 to $45,960 for an individual in 2013), they can be eligible for a subsidy.

Looking into these health insurance options can help you be prepared to send your college-bound son or daughter off to school. If you’re a Health Advocate member and need more help understanding health insurance options for your college student, give us a call—one of our Personal Health Advocates will be happy to assist you.



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