Ensure College Students Have Health Coverage

Going to college is exciting for both “traditional” students – typically age 24 or under – and “non-traditional” students, such as graduate or international students, or those over 24.

It has its challenges, however, including illnesses and injuries. And finding health insurance at any age can be difficult. Even more so, in 2014, when everyone will be required to carry coverage according to the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

Options for traditional students include:

Parents’ health insurance: The ACA permits children to remain on parents’ policies until age 26. This is the best option, but check with providers for limitations. For example, if a student is going to school out of state, coverage may be affected, and the result could be higher co-pays and deductibles and limited availability of in-network care providers.

College health insurance: Many colleges and universities offer student health insurance plans. Prices and coverage options vary by state and school. If a student is able to choose between a parent’s plan and a college plan, college plans are worth considering.

Individual health insurance: If neither of these options will work for your student, individual plans can be purchased from national providers. However, this is the most expensive option, and many may consider it a last resort.

Non-traditional students – including graduate and international students – usually have the same options unless they’re older than 26. Graduate schools often offer plans comparable to traditional student health plans, and individual plans are available.

For students traveling abroad, coverage may become limited outside of a certain region, so student travel health insurance may be the only option. School-sponsored trips may offer coverage, and some providers will tailor coverage to travel plans. Adding emergency medical evacuation coverage and 24-7 help lines are definitely recommended.

When you’re a college student, finding health insurance isn’t difficult if you know where to look. As for paying tuition bills? Well, that’s another story.