Insurance for College Students
The rising costs of healthcare and tuition have placed an extra burden on students pursuing their college education. As of June 2013, 27% of US residents between 18-34 were uninsured as compared to 16% of the overall US population. With many struggling to balance the emotional and financial costs associated with work, life, and school, even a minor health event can set back uninsured students. The US government passed the Affordable Care Act (ACA), or "Obamacare," to help mitigate these issues for students and other citizens experiencing quality of life issues associated with medical care costs. Since the law was enacted in January 2014, students now have more options for health coverage than ever before.
What options are available to me under ACA?
Students under 26 may stay on their parents' plans.
For unmarried, dependent students who are protected under a parent's insurance plan, you may now stay on that plan until your 26th birthday. (Any unmarried, dependent student may join a parent's insurance plan if not already covered until age 26.) Talk with your parent about your ability to remain insured under their plan and ensure you have access to in-network coverage near your school to help keep costs low. Plan ahead of your 26 th birthday to find a new plan, so there is no significant gap in your coverage.
If your income falls at or below 133% of federal poverty level
(FPL), you may qualify for your state's Medicaid expansion coverage. Not all states chose to participate in this expansion, so check the ACA website or talk with a school counselor to see if you qualify.
Coverage guaranteed through the health insurance marketplace.
If your income is above 133% of FPL, or you choose not to pursue Medicaid, you can shop for insurance through the ACA-mandated health insurance marketplace. Persons whose incomes fall between 133-400% of FPL may qualify for an additional tax credit or cost-sharing subsidy by purchasing insurance through the marketplace.
What other health insurance choices do I have?
Student health insurance plans provided through the school.
Your college or university may offer health coverage. Student health insurance plans (SHIPs) now must meet minimum criteria under ACA. Many SHIPs can be grouped together with the other costs associated with attending school, making affordability convenient through student loans. However, these plans only qualify for tax credits if purchased through the health insurance marketplace, but not all SHIPs are offered this way.
Catastrophic plans offer cheaper premiums, but higher deductibles, for students under age 30. These are fee-for-service plans, meaning you pay for what you need (like standard prices for doctor's visits, etc.), making out-of-pocket expenses greater for preventive care. The intended purpose of these plans is to provide coverage truly in the event of a major medical situation. Many students choose this option due to cheaper premiums. Catastrophic plans, however, are NOT eligible for tax credits under ACA.