health insurance for college students

health insurance for college students

Student Health Insurance

The rising cost of education and the slow-down in the economy has made getting student health insurance an even bigger challenge.  Fortunately, many schools have options available that may allow students to decrease their healthcare expenses and improve their healthcare coverage.  There are also many individual or family health insurance plans that offer affordable ways to keep the students covered.  (For the purposes of this article, the terms student and young adult will be used interchangeably.)

Parental Health Insurance

One of the most affordable and most complete student health coverage comes when the students stay on their parent's health insurance plan while enrolled full time at college or attend high school. Commonly, the parent pays the cost of some or all of the premiums, which can cost several hundreds of dollars per month per student.
Using the parent’s health insurance plan offers several advantages.  Mostly, the benefits included in an employer’s policy are most times richer than the student health plans offered at schools. Student health insurance policies usually have low premiums.  However, they also reduce the amount of benefits they offer, which means they many times don’t offer drug benefits or regular doctor visits.

College Health Plan Options

All California colleges have a health center on campus. Mostly, they offer relatively low-cost or free health services like handling minor ailments, to any registered college student, whether they are insured or not.  Unfortunately, a disadvantage of using the college health centers are that it doesn’t normally cover anything that requires major medical treatments and often they have no prescription drug services.

An important factor to consider regarding the current health insurance policy vs. a college health plan option is the access to doctors near the college the student will be attending. If the student is covered under an HMO plan, make sure there are primary care physicians on your HMO list of approved doctors nearby. If the plan is a PPO, check to see if there are participating network providers in the area. If not, many PPO plans will provide you with some level of coverage when using out-of-network providers, but the coinsurance and deductibles associated with out-of-network health care may be substantially higher.

In summary, the most important thing is to check to see if the student currently insured under their parent's health insurance policy is still eligible to remain insured under the parent’s plan. There are age restrictions as to how old a dependent college student child can be and may also have restrictions on the number of units you must be taking in college to qualify as a full-time student. It is important to consider how much your parent's are paying in monthly premiums for your portion of the health insurance coverage.  If the student is much younger, they should be covered under the health insurance policy.



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