Since most college students are young and in good health, they do not consider health insurance important. This is not the proper approach to their health regardless of their lack of current health issues. An injury or a serious illness can sideline the student with serious medical bills that run into the tens of thousands. Consider the fact that a surgery for a torn ACL costs about $20,000, and this injury can happen to anyone playing sports regardless of physical fitness abilities. Expenses like this can force a student to leave school due to an inability to pay for the education and healthcare. Also, even if the student still believes he or she does not need health insurance, the school may force the issue. According to a study by the Government Accountability Office in 2008, 30% of colleges and universities require their students to have health insurance.
There are several options available for students seeking to obtain health insurance and they include:
Parents' employer-provided health insurance plans: More than two-thirds of college students are covered by their parents’ health plans and the healthcare reform bill introduced in May allows students to stay on their parents’ plans until the age of 26. These plans will typically provide students with the best coverage out of all their options. The downside to using a parent's plan is that students who attend college out of state may have trouble finding providers that participate in their parents’ health plan.
College health insurance plans: The Government Accountability Office reported that more than half of colleges and universities provide health insurance plans for their students. The positives of this method are that premiums are usually rather low, ranging from $30 to $2,400 annually. It is very important, however, to research your school's healthcare plan coverage because many do not provide adequate protection against certain conditions. The same Government Accountability Office study found that more than half of plans had a maximum benefit of $30,000 per condition and 35% had a cutoff at $50,000. While this may seem like enough, many conditions may require more coverage than this. In April, New York's Attorney General Andrew Cuomo asserted his belief that a lot of college healthcare plans provided generous profits for insurance companies but put students at risk based on his office's investigation of 65 college healthcare policies. These plans may be inexpensive, but due diligence should be taken when considering them.
Individual insurance plans: Students can purchase their own healthcare plans independent of their colleges and family health plans. These can be obtained through websites like www.eHealthInsurance.com. The cost of these plans depends on the person's state of health, and college students typically are charged the least. There are some insurers that focus on providing health insurance to students who do not have access to a family healthcare plan and are unsatisfied with their schools’ plans. These plans are relatively affordable with premiums that range from $1,464 to $1,848 annually and provide significantly better coverage than college healthcare plans.
More information about health insurance is available from the United States government at healthcare.gov.