Health & Safety

Health Insurance for the College Student

Many parents struggle with wanting to keep their children safe and healthy while away at college. Going to college can take a toll on mental, emotional and physical health. That’s why health insurance is so important, as well as why some universities require that their students have health insurance.

Here are the options for insuring your student:

Parent insurance: If you already have health insurance that provides for your college student, the good news is she can remain covered until she’s 26. The 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act allows children to stay on their parents’ health insurance plan until that age, regardless of student, employment or marital status. However, some schools mandate that students pay to enroll in school-sponsored plans.

Through the school: Many universities offer health insurance to eligible students through an underwriter. Most eligibility requirements include that the student be enrolled and registered for a minimum number of credit hours. These plans may allow your student to extend health insurance coverage past graduation, but they might also have restrictions worth noting, like only being able to use the campus health services or certain health providers. This would mean your student wouldn’t be covered when she travels or comes home.

Individual: Check out individual plans, especially if your student is nearing graduation (or age 26) and will need to be covered on her own. Websites like allows you to compare different quotes for different types of insurance products. For students who need individual plans because neither the school nor her parents provide insurance, consider GradGuard, which is specifically for college students.

No coverage: Many campuses provide high-quality health care for average medical problems, like strep throat. But major illnesses or trauma can’t be treated on-campus. Even if your student’s school has health services on-campus, don’t risk not having health insurance. Your student could go into debt and risk her health – and education, if she has to drop out – by not having adequate medical care.

The most important part of choosing health insurance coverage for your student is understanding the benefits and exclusions. Consider this checklist of terms to research and understand for all the options:

Coinsurance: Also known as copayment. This is often a specific percentage, which the individual is required to pay after a deductible has been paid.

Copayment: This is a predetermined fee that the individual is required to pay. For example, at a doctor visit, your student may have a copayment of $45 due, regardless of the purpose or outcome of the visit.

Deductible: The individual must pay a specific amount toward health insurance before any costs are covered by the insurance company. There is usually a yearly deductible amount.

Exclusion: Health insurance policies include provisions that eliminate coverage under certain situations, like acts, location or types of damage.

In-network: Health plans usually have a network of providers that individuals can use at a lower cost. Individuals enjoy the insurance benefits through this network, and practitioners outside of the network may not be covered.

Out-of-pocket maximum: Individuals may have a maximum amount of money that they have to pay to cover health costs before the insurance company will pay 100 percent of the expenses.

PPO: A preferred provider organization is a group of health care providers who contract with the insurance company to provide the policy holders with care at substantial discounts.

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