Is Health Insurance Required for College Students?

Since the passing of the Affordable Care Act in 2014, it has been a legal requirement for all individuals to be covered by a health insurance plan. For those that don’t have health coverage, there is the threat of having a fine levied against them. Unfortunately, college students are not exempt from this law. However, there are several options available.

Stay Under the Parent’s Plan

health insurance required for college studentsIf the parents of a college student are currently covered under a health insurance plan through an employer or a private plan, the student can continue to be covered under that plan until the age of 26. However, there are a few things that can make this option difficult.

One of the most prevalent problems with this option is the absence of in-network providers if the student is attending an out-of-state college. The parent will want to call the insurance carrier to find out if there are in-network in the area. Many larger carriers do have affiliated networks that are in other states. Alternatively, students have the option of scheduling routine visits while they are at home on vacation.

In the case of emergencies, the parent should ask questions regarding reimbursement for claims made in the college area if there are no in-network providers available.

Sign Up for a Health Plan at School

Many colleges offer their own health plans to their students. A college can opt to work with an insurance company or to have direct insurance. The only different between the two options is the way the claims are paid.

The best thing about this option is that the cost of the premiums can be grouped in with other college expenses such as tuition and room and board. This provides a clear advantage because student loans, grants, and scholarships can help cover these costs.

The downfall of this type of insurance is that the coverage options may be limited. While it is great for covering things such as female issues, it may not cover things like injuries sustained by a student while intoxicated.

Sign Up for Catastrophic Coverage

Catastrophic coverage is especially attractive to the younger population. With most of these plans, there are usually preventative care visits that are covered without charge. Overall, the premiums are very low, while the deductibles are glaringly high. The deductibles on these types of plans are usually upwards of $6,000.00.

The reasoning behind this type of coverage is that most younger people don’t have the need to go to the doctor very often barring any existing health issues. The problem with this type of coverage is if there is an unexpected diagnosis or a serious accident, there can be a serious financial burden levied against the student.

The other issue is that students with this type of coverage may be reluctant to seek medical care because of the potential cost. This is especially dangerous if medical issues are ignored for a long period of time because of cost of treatment.

Apply for Health Insurance through Medicaid

In the past, Medicaid was reserved for use by children and pregnant women. However, the qualifications have changed in many states. In these states, Medicaid can be issued to those that can show that they don’t have the financial means to pay for an insurance plan. There are income limits for Medicaid. The student may be eligible if they are below 133 percent of the federal poverty level.

The good thing about Medicaid coverage is that there are no deductibles. There pay be a copay, however it will be relatively low. Medicaid will also cover dental, vision, and prescription drug costs.

All states have not chosen to expand their Medicaid coverage. It’s important to do the research to see if Medicaid is a viable option.

Just Don’t Skip the Coverage

The Affordable Care Act requires that all taxpayers carry insurance. However, there are a few exemptions. The health reform rules state that if a person doesn’t earn enough money to file income taxes, they will be exempt from having to have coverage. As of the 2017 tax season, anyone making over $10,400.00 needs to file taxes. This amount is equal to the standard deduction for a single person plus one exemption. Many students won’t make this much.

The cost of insurance coverage isn’t the only reason that skipping out on coverage shouldn’t be an option. Medical insurance is something that you’d rather have and not need than to be caught in a bad situation without it. Students need to evaluate the benefits of having health insurance such as the security that it provides. These benefits should be weighed against the actual cost of the coverage.

There are many different health insurance options available for students. The most important thing is to research every option to figure out which one provides the best fit. There is no one option that will be a perfect match for every situation.

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