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- Most college students are still considered dependents under their parents’ health insurance policy
- About 30 percent of colleges and universities will not allow students on campus without proof of health insurance
- The average premium of a college-sponsored healthcare plan is $850 per year
Health insurance is not a major concern for most college students. After all, college students are generally young and healthy and usually aren’t concerned about lingering illnesses or even routine care.
However, college students need health insurance just like every other group of people. Illness can strike at any time and without the right health insurance coverage, students may have to choose between meeting healthcare expenses or continuing a college education.
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Do I need health insurance ?
According to a 2008 study by the Government Accountability Office, about 30 percent of colleges and universities will not allow students on campus without proof of health insurance.
Although colleges provide medical treatment, this is only designed for on-campus emergencies, preventative health care and minor illnesses such as colds. The infirmary system is not designed to treat ongoing illnesses or major injuries.
How do health insurance companies treat college students?
Most health insurance companies treat college students as dependents of their parents, allowing them to remain on their parent’s plan. This is a great way to provide low-cost insurance for your child and know that he or she will have access to medical care.
New healthcare legislation has made it possible for college-age dependents to remain on their parents’ policies.
According to the new Healthcare Act, students may stay on parent’s insurance until the age of 26; however, several tests must be applied to determine the student’s status and keep healthcare coverage active.
Further, many students attend college far from home, and if the parents have an HMO or PPO plan, the doctors and healthcare providers in the college area may not be “in-network.”
College Sponsored Healthcare Plans
Another option for college students is a college-sponsored healthcare plan. According to the 2008 Government Accountability Office study, about half of the colleges and universities in American have some form of health insurance available for purchase by students.
The average annual premium is around $850. This is a good option for students who aren’t covered by their parent’s plan, or who may be “out of network.”
However, many of these plans have very low limits, as they are designed to treat common illnesses and preventative care, rather than major catastrophic illness.
You could quickly exhaust your plan’s benefits with a single hospital visit or if you are diagnosed with some major illness requiring ongoing treatment.
Further, if you are diagnosed with a serious illness, it can jeopardize your chance to get other health insurance under the pre-existing conditions clause contained in most healthcare plans. Many of these plans also do not cover prescriptions or other common costs.
Private Health Insurance for College Students
College students can also apply for private healthcare insurance policies through many websites and agents. For a young, healthy adult, premiums are relatively low.
However, even at $50 a month, the premiums may be more than many non-working college students can afford. Deductibles and co-pays are often higher than college-sponsored plans, although limits are also generally much higher.
What is the first step if you need health insurance as a college student?
If you are an uninsured college student, you do have many options. First, visit HealthCare.gov, the government website designed to help uninsured people find affordable healthcare insurance.
Depending on your tax status and income, you may qualify for several types of low-cost health insurance. If you are not dependent on your parents and not declared as a dependent on their income tax, you may qualify for these government-sponsored plans.
However, you are not “independent” simply because you move out. The government looks at independence for college students based on a series of tests, such as if you are paying your own tuition, expenses, and rent.
No matter which option you choose, it is very important to have health insurance as a college student. Even if you are very healthy, accidents and illnesses can strike at any time.
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