Archive for December 14th, 2013

College Students Have Choices When it Comes to Health Insurance

Saturday, December 14th, 2013

College students often underestimate the importance of health insurance.  They believe that they are young and healthy and don’t want to “waste” money from their low-paying jobs to pay for something of which they can’t see the immediate value.  ABC News recently published Bankrate’s article, “Top 6 Health Insurance Options for College Students,” by Chris Kissell.  The article stresses the importance of health insurance to college students and highlights the fact that it is easier than ever for them to find a health insurance plan.  There are more options than ever before.

Perhaps the simplest option is to stay on their parents’ health insurance plan.  This won’t work for someone whose parents are uninsured, but everyone else under the age of 26 can now stay on their parents’ plans.  Sometimes this is tricky if students go to a college out of state though.  Make sure that there is somewhere to see a doctor in-network or try to schedule your doctors appointments when you are home for a break.  If remaining on your parents’ health plan isn’t an option, try to sign up for a health insurance plan through your college.  Many colleges offer plans to students and the cost can even be included with your tuition and paid by student loans.  Some college plans have limited coverage though, so read the details carefully to know what you are getting.

Another health insurance option is to shop in a health insurance exchange created by Obamacare.  Most students have low enough income that they can qualify for a subsidy to help them pay for their plan.  Students can also sign up for something called ‘catastrophic coverage’ through the health insurance exchanges.  These plans have low premiums and high deductibles.  Preventative care is covered, but beyond that deductibles are high.  This type of plan might work for some students, but one health ailment could lead to high medical bills.

As some states expand their Medicaid programs, students may be eligible to apply for this government health insurance.  Their entire family’s income would have to meet the poverty qualifications for them to be eligible for Medicaid.  Not all states are expanding their Medicaid programs, so this won’t be an option for all low-income college students.  Most Americans will be required to have health insurance or face a fine from the government.  But college students earning less than $10,000, exempting them from filing income taxes, won’t be forced to carry health insurance.  Forgoing health insurance can be dangerous and costly though, so search for an individual health insurance plan if none of the other options work for you.