Whether it’s your first time on a college campus or you’re going to get your graduate degree, you have to make sure that you have some form of health insurance. In addition to choosing your degree path, it’s going to be one of the more important decisions you make while you’re in school. It may not seem like very much fun to think about health insurance when you’re trying to decorate your dorm room or make sure you have all your books but it’s a necessity. Even if you are extremely healthy, the cramped quarters of dorm life can leave you feeling sick. Whether it’s the flu or the common cold, increased exposure can cause the sickness to spread like wildfire and if you don’t have the right coverage, you will be suffering in a variety of ways. Some colleges have health centers that can provide basic care but what will you do if yours does not? Going to the doctor for even a simple procedure can be expensive if you don’t have health insurance and forget about a bad accident. Medical bills can run into the thousands and if you add that on top of your student loans, it can all become too much. Luckily, as a student, there are several options that you can employ to make sure you have the coverage you need so you can focus on making the grade.
Parent Insurance Plan
With the passage of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, children can now stay on their parents’ insurance plans until the age of 26. If your parents are okay with this, it may be your best option. Their employer sponsored insurance plan is going to provide a much more broad range of coverage than your other options and your parents may still cover your costs. If your family decides to go with this option, just make to double check your policy. Some plans may not cover certain providers that are out of state and therefore out of network. This can be adjusted but its best to take care of it before you need to use your insurance.
School Health Insurance
If you past the age of 26 or your parents don’t have a health insurance plan that covers you, check with your university to see if they offer any kind of health insurance. Some colleges even require it and many times, they will offer plans through specific providers that have plans already set up for you to choose from. The cost for these are going to vary depending on what kind of coverage you get but don’t go with the bare bones in order to save money. You want to make sure that your preventive care services are covered as well as any treatment for accidents. You can normally include the costs in your loan amount as well so that you already have a pool of money to help pay for your insurance. As always, check the fine print because some school’s plans have certain coverage caps and limits on prescription drugs.
If you’ve left an employer to come back to school, you may be eligible for COBRA, which allows you to extend your employer benefits for 18 months. It could be expensive but if you know this is your only option, you could also build that into any personal school loans if a health plan isn’t offered by the university. Once your COBRA plan is over, you should have conducted some thorough research on individual health insurance plans. This can be expensive but you shouldn’t be without any kind of health coverage. You could try to apply to Medicaid or state programs but if you have the money to go to school, they may deny your request for free healthcare.
As a student, you have more options than most when it comes to your health care coverage. Luckily, many colleges and universities understand how important it is to have healthy, productive students so they provide health centers and coverage plans. Talk to your parents to see if staying on their plan is a possibility. Just think of researching health insurance as practice for your college papers.