Student health insurance options
Students have a few options for getting the health insurance coverage they need while at college. You can enroll in your school’s student health plan, remain on a parent’s health insurance, or apply for your own coverage through the ACA marketplace.
The best student health insurance option for you will depend on your age, family situation, location, and finances. Here’s what you can expect from each student health insurance option.
Student health plan
Most schools offer their student health insurance plan as an opt-out plan, rather than an opt-in one. To waive the coverage, you typically need to provide proof of comparable coverage on another health insurance plan. The costs vary among schools, but you can expect to pay around $2,000 to $3,000 annually for this coverage. This is a separate cost from your tuition.
Student health plans must provide the 10 essential benefits the ACA mandates, which include hospitalization, outpatient care, emergency services, preventive care, maternity and pediatric care, and prescription drugs, among other services.
Stay on a parent’s insurance as a dependent
If you’re younger than 26, you can remain on a parent’s health insurance plan whether it’s employer-sponsored coverage or from the ACA marketplace. As long as the policy offers dependent child coverage, you can stay on the insurance, even if your parents no longer claim you as a dependent on their taxes. This is often the least expensive option for student healthcare coverage. However, if you attend school in a different state from where your parents live, you need to check that their insurance policy will still cover you.
“The parent’s insurance coverage often has limitations for dependents, such as partial medical coverage only for students living out of state,” says Petkevich. “Individual insurance may be a good alternative but may cost more than other plan options.”
Apply for insurance on your own
Applying for a policy through the healthcare marketplace could also provide you with the coverage you need at an affordable price. Whether you go to school in or out of state, you’ll apply for coverage in the state where you go to school. You’ll technically be included in your parents’ tax household (unless you’re over age 26), so the cost of your coverage will be based on the household income.
Normally, you can enroll only during the open enrollment period from Nov. 1 to Dec. 15 every year, but you may qualify for a special enrollment period when you move to or from your school.
But keep in mind that the insurance policies you can qualify for on your own don’t always have the best coverage compared to staying on a parent’s plan or enrolling in a student health plan from your school.