These college health insurance options can keep you covered.
Of the many issues that face a college-bound student, insurance isn’t always at the top of the list. Accommodation, transport and class fees often take precedence in this optimistic and busy time. It’s important to remember that college also presents numerous risks as well as opportunities.
It’s a place where many students experience things for the first time, often under peer pressure. It can be a period of great concern for parents, whose children may be leaving home for the first time and moving beyond the watchful eye of their guardians.
Alcohol, driving, and drugs are among risk factors to seriously consider when it comes to college coverage. Being aware of these (and how to ensure against them) are valuable lessons.
Why college health insurance matters
Getting a student through college these days is an expensive thing, averaging over $25,000 according to the latest statistics. The nature of college tuition means these fees are typically required to be paid before the start of each semester or at the beginning of each trimester or semester.
Imagine making that kind of commitment, only for a student to fall ill or have an accident. Being without college health insurance can mean further massive expense. While the once-typical age of college students is changing (over 24 is becoming more prominent), many students enter college in their late teens.
Why college age is an important factor
This age bracket represents the highest auto crash figures for any age group. Despite the legal drinking age being 21 in all 50 states, a look at the damage caused by underage drinking reveals some very sobering facts. The National Institute on Drug Abuse offers engaging resources for parents and students illustrating the dangers of recreational drugs and over-the-counter medication.
Going without college insurance invites all these risks and expenses that are not limited to the present. Medical debt can negatively impact a student’s future in the form of bad credit. It’s also important to remember that health insurance is still mandatory, at least until 2019. The tax penalty for not having it, however, no longer exists.
The available options for college health insurance – college itself
The college may offer insurance for students. This has the benefit of the cost being part of overall college expenses. Under such circumstances, a student’s loan or financial aid can help to pay for health insurance. Colleges who offer health insurance often have on-site medical facilities.
Students receive numerous benefits under the Student Health Insurance Program (SHIP). This example from the Florida Institute of Technology shows coverage for such things as preventative care, X-rays, physician’s visits, and emergency room expenses.
As with any policy, it’s vital to examine the provisions with an insurance professional to guarantee what a college does and does not cover. For instance, some institutions may discriminate if a student comes to harm through misuse of substances, while others may only extend the coverage to full-time students.
Parents can provide coverage
The increasing age of typical college students to 24 makes no difference in being protected by parental plans. Since 2014, college students can remain covered in this way until they’re 26 under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) regardless of their own financial status. Some students may receive premium reducing tax credits under ACA.
Parents can add children to their plans during open or special enrollment periods; the child doesn’t even have to be listed as a dependent. Potential disadvantages here include your provider having no (or limited) out of state health coverage. Students in such situations are best advised to schedule medical visits during trips back home.
The Children’s Health Insurance Program
Commonly known as CHIP, the program can cover students up to age 19 or beyond if they’re pregnant. This insurance is low-cost and aimed at families who earn too much to qualify for Medicaid (more on that below). CHIP covers emergency and laboratory services, inpatient and outpatient hospital care, doctor visits, dental, and more.
Another advantage is no enrollment period. You can apply to CHIP year-round, and the coverage starts immediately.
College Health Insurance and Medicaid
Medicaid provides some low-income families and individuals with health insurance. Like CHIP, enrollment is open all year. Eligibility requirements vary from state to state with fees either paid wholly by Medicaid or through a private insurance company. Household size, family size, disability, and other factors contribute to eligibility.
Private plans for college insurance
If a student is also working while at college, their employer may offer affordable health insurance. Most students can manage only part-time work around their course schedule; a situation that doesn’t always provide enough money to cover insurance.
If employment allows, shopping for a private plan is a way for students to have fuller control of their policy. Out of state students will be able to select coverage that fits their location. Students classified as dependents under their parents will have their premiums influenced by parental income. Independent students need only be concerned with their own financial status.
It’s always wise to consult with a qualified insurance provider to assess your unique situation. College is a vital step toward the future and one that can’t be left to chance.
Avante Insurance is a South Florida family owned and operated agency providing an array of insurance services to meet the individual needs of our customers. If you need any information, call us at 305-648-7070, request an insurance quote or contact us with any questions or comments.