Health Insurance For College Students

Getting ill or injured is usually not at the forefront of a college student’s mind. The reality, however, is anyone can fall victim to mental health issues, accidents, or severe illness, even college students. No one wants to accrue huge medical bills, especially students already facing large student loan debt.

Here are some common questions about getting covered:

My college charges a student health fee; do I still need insurance?

Insurance is still needed for emergency room care and other services your school’s health center doesn’t cover. Typically, routine doctor visits, vaccinations, or short-term counseling is covered by this fee, but services such as X-rays, prescriptions, or specialty doctor visits may not be.

Should I buy a plan through my college?

Student health plans are often inexpensive and good quality, something that didn’t exist before the passage of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Before the ACA, many plans had loopholes like excluding coverage of pre-existing conditions. It is often an attractive option even for students who are eligible under their parents’ plan.

Can’t I just stay on my parent’s plan?

If your parent has employer health coverage, the ACA allows you to stay on their plan until you’re 26. However, there’s no requirement that employers need to make a contribution to coverage for dependents, which means your coverage could be a lot more expensive than theirs is.

What if I don’t have the option of my parent’s plan or a student health plan?

If either of these options aren’t available to you, you can buy your own insurance. For instance, if you lose student health insurance for whatever reason, get married, or have a baby, you can buy a Marketplace plan in a special enrollment window.

Can I just be uninsured to save money?

It is very risky to be uninsured, as anything can happen. Fortunately, there are other ways to get covered. If you earn less than $16,573 a year, you’re eligible for Medicaid in more than 30 states as long as you’re not a dependent on someone else’s insurance.

What can I keep confidential from my parents even if I’m on their insurance?

If you’re over 18, you’re an adult and entitled to privacy. However, there is an exception: If you are on your parents’ plan, they will probably receive an explanation of benefits (EOB) that illustrates which services were provided and how much the insurance company covered.

Before enrolling in any kind of plan, it’s a good idea to complete an authorization form that lays out when providers can contact your parent or guardian about a serious health or mental health problem. In the event that you experience an emergency or mental health crisis, your provider can independently decide to communicate the issue to your parents, if it is deemed to be in your best interest.