Earning a college degree is certainly rewarding, but it doesn’t come without trials and tribulations. College students face a number of obstacles, and for many attending lectures, taking tests, and trying to prepare themselves for the next chapter in their lives is the least of their worries. Many college students also have to endure the worry that comes along with making sure they have access to the medical care that they need.
If you’re a new college student, or if your child is college-bound, you may be wondering how you are going to afford the price of health care – on top of the cost of college. Many students who are working toward their post-secondary degrees – and they’re parents, too – worry about how they are going to maintain insurance coverage so that they can continue receiving the medical care that they need. After all, you can’t exactly perform well in school if your health is suffering.
Fortunately, college students do have options when it comes to health insurance. Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, the health reform legislation that was passed in 2010, college students now have more options than ever before when it comes to health insurance.
Below, we’ll discuss some of those options so that you can make the best choice for your needs; and continue to receive the crucial health care that you require.
Keep Mom and Dad’s Coverage
If you are 26 years of age or younger, you can still receive health insurance coverage from your parents’ plan. Thanks to the ACA (often referred to as Obamacare), students can now stay on their parents’ health insurance plans until they reach the age of 26.
If you’re attending college in the same state that your parents reside in, you can be added to their health insurance application during the open enrollment period; or, if your parents’ qualify, they can add you during the special enrollment period.
It’s important to note, however, that it’s not as simple as just being under the age of 26; there are some stipulations. If, for example, you are not attending college in the same state that your parents’ live in, you do have to make sure that their health insurance provides coverage in the state where you are attending school. Many large insurance companies do offer in-network services in other state; however, it’s important that you and your parents look into this information before you schedule an appointment with a doctor. If their plan doesn’t offer in-network options in the state where you’re attending school, it’s in your best interest to schedule your appointments when you’re at home. Additionally, make sure to speak to the health insurance company that issues the policy to learn how reimbursements for emergency services work.
Consider a College Health Plan
A lot of colleges and universities provide health care plans for their students. For example, a school might partner with an insurance carrier, and the carrier will pay any claims that are made; or, the plan that the school offers may be funded by the school, and the payouts for coverage are made directly by the institution.
The primary benefit of enrolling in a college health plan is that the costs of premiums are combined with other college expenses; the cost of tuition, as well as room and board. As such, if you are using student loans to pay for your post-secondary education, the funding provided by loans can actually be applied to a college health plan.
It should be noted, however, that college health plans may offer limited coverage. As such, you may have to pay more out-of-pocket expenses; for instance, if you sustain an injury that the plan doesn’t cover, you’ll have to pay for the cost of care yourself. Additionally, college plans may set annual limits for things like healthcare provider visits and the number of claims that are filed.
Invest in a Marketplace Plan
Another health insurance option that college students can consider is investing in their own plan through the Health Insurance Marketplace. There are several options available for college students; however, it’s important to note that these options do vary from state to state.
With that said, however, there are tax credit subsidies available that can be used to lower the cost of monthly premiums. You do have to be eligible for this tax credit, but if you do, it can make a big difference in the cost of your health insurance coverage. In order to be qualify for a subsidy, you must meet specific criteria; for example, your annual household income must be up to 400 percent of the federal poverty level. Depending on the state you live in, you may need to meet other criteria, as well, in order to qualify for the tax credit subsidy.
If you are eligible for the subsidy, the money can be distributed from the Marketplace directly to the health insurance company that issues your policy. Depending on the amount you receive, you could end up having to pay very little for your monthly premiums; some students may even not be required to pay anything at all.
Apply for Medicaid
Lastly, you can try to apply for Medicaid. This government-funded health insurance is offered for people who fall below the poverty level in terms of their annual income. Prior to the Affordable Care Act, Medicaid coverage was very narrow; as it was only offered to people in certain demographics; however, with the passage of the ACA, Medicaid coverage has been expanded and more people are eligible.
If you fall within 133 percent of the federal poverty level, you may be eligible for Medicaid; however, depending on the state, you may be required to meet other criteria, as well. If you are eligible for Medicaid, your health insurance coverage will be free, or greatly reduced. Generally, there are very limited out-of-pocket costs; if any.
The Bottom Line
When it comes to health insurance coverage, students have more options now than they ever had before. Make sure you find out which option works the best for you so that you can receive the vital healthcare that you need while you’re attending school.