Looking for health insurance when you are in college can be very stressful. Often college represents the first time that you’ve left the house for any serious amount of time. You are busier than you have ever been, with classes and extracurriculars, and hopefully with a health amount of social life. This doesn’t leave much time to search for a quality health plan, but unfortunately, ample time for injury or illness.
Staying on your Parent’s Plan
Due to legislation introduced during the Obama administration, you are able to stay on your parent’s insurance plan until you are 26 years old. This won’t solve every college student’s health insurance needs, but this change has allowed millions of students to remain insured. This is by far the least painful approach, to simply maintain the plan you had in high school as you attend college. If this is an option to you, and your parents don’t mind keeping you on their plan, it is certainly your most financially viable option.
If you are attending a university outside your home state, make sure your insurance benefits will follow you. Your coverage may be limited, or your services substantially different outside of your normal care network. For example, if you parent’s health plan is Kaiser Permanente and you attend college in a state outside of the 8 states that Kaiser Permanente operates in, you will most likely want to split your care. For primary care doctor visits and routine dental check-ups, it will probably be best to schedule those while you are back at home on break. Emergency services can’t exactly be scheduled, but they will be covered even if your accidental gunshot wound is treated in a different state by a non-Kaiser Permanente hospital.
Using the University Clinic
All colleges with housing will have dedicated medical staff on hand, usually at a university clinic. While not the same as a full health insurance plan, with a primary care doctor and regular check ups, a clinic can still be a great medical resource. If you stay on your parent’s plan, the clinic can be a great supplement to care, treating illness and injury that happen while you are on campus. Clinics can often handle other medical services common of college students, such as mental health and counseling services. Birth control and disability resources should also be readily available at your college’s clinic.
Use of the clinic is not free, but you are probably already paying for its service through your tuition or housing plan. If there is a clinic on campus, it is far and above your most convenient resource for health services, you don’t even need to change out of your pajamas (at least that’s how many college students treat any location on campus). Here’s an example of a larger state school’s health services: University or Oregon Health Center. U of O offers its own insurance plan for students called the U of O Health Benefits Plan for $213.50 a month or $854 per term. Even if you don’t pay for an insurance plan, vaccines, bandaids and condoms are typically offered for free.
Buying Insurance on the Open Market
If you are unable to stay on your parent’s insurance plan, and your university’s plan isn’t the type of coverage you are looking for, your next option is to apply for insurance on your state’s health insurance market. This may sound daunting at first, and it will take a fair amount of your time, but it is critically important for your health, and can be the difference between a happy, healthy, and affordable college experience and massive medical debt, or tragic untreated health conditions.
Open enrollment for 2020 is from November 1st 2019 to December 15th, but there are many reasons for a Special Enrollment Period exception if you are unable to fill out the necessary paperwork during that time.
If you are attending college full time, you are probably below the poverty line for tax purposes. This means that you will be eligible for Medicaid through The Affordable Care Act. Every state has implemented Medicare benefits in different ways. These can easily be found on your state’s healthcare marketplace. Here is Oregon’s Healthcare Marketplace and Washington’s Healthcare Marketplace. “Obamacare” plans are very similar to your parent’s insurance, with checkups, yearly dental cleanings, and a wide range of specialty care. Mental health and counseling services are even available, all with little to no co-pay, and no monthly payments.
- Oregon Health Plan
- The Oregon Health Plan is the public insurance option that is an extension of medicaid benefits for Oregon residents.
- Washington Apple Health
- Apple Health is Washington’s answer to the Medicaid extension under the Affordable Care Act.
If you would like a quote for Kaiser Permanente or Regence BlueShield in Oregon or Washington, Click Here!
The average college student has never purchased health insurance before, or scheduled their own doctor’s appointment, but that doesn’t mean the process is out of your reach. Take some time this summer to figure out your health coverage while you are away attending college. If you tackle this now, you can have more time to study. . . or party, without the worry of a serious medical emergency forcing you to leave school.
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Healthcare.gov’s resources for college health insurance