There is a misconception which is common in our daily life. You don’t need to be protected by health insurance when you are young and healthy. Actually diseases and catastrophic accidents may knock you down at any time. What you can do is to prevent them. So do college students. A health insurance plan will be a perfect choice.
According to a study made by the Government Accountability Office in 2008, over 30% of colleges and universities require students to have health insurance coverage when they are enrolled. You may ask how you can get coverage as college students. Actually, there are five main sources of health insurance for college students. Each of them has various pros and cons.
Medicaid is a federally-funded program which offers coverage to students. All the college students who receive Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), also referred to as welfare, will be eligible for Medicaid automatically. As long as the total income of your family is low and can’t afford high medical bills or you suffer a disability, you will get coverage from Medicaid. Pregnant students and their children are also included in the program. All the US citizens or lawfully-admitted immigrants will get protection from Medicaid when they go out of foster care. People who are under the age of 65 and have inadequate income will also be able to get protected by the program.
2. Your Parents’ Health Insurance
You may qualify for your parents’ health insurance which is a cheap choice for you. Over 60% of college students are protected by their parents’ health insurance plans. This number is expanding each year. According to health insurance reform bill which took effect in May 2010, all the young adults including college students who are not protected by employers’ health insurance plans are able to stay under their parents’ health insurance plans until the age of 26.
Your parents’ health insurance plans include HMO plan, PPO plan or employers’ group health insurance. Health Maintenance Organization (HMO) plans come with obvious geographic region differences. In most cases, you are required to receive routine health services only in the place where you purchase the plan. Only a few HMO plans national networks have mutually-beneficial agreements with other HMO networks so that you are able to get medical services no matter where you attend your school.
Similar to HMO plan, PPO plan requires you to get medical treatments and services from a doctor or hospital within a network. However, you may not find the medical provider near your college or university. You will have to go back home for related medical services. It is obvious that the plan is not convenient for college students.
You are also eligible for your parents’ employer health insurance. However, different employers and insurance companies have different requirements on the applicants’ qualifications according to the actual conditions and their needs. Some employers’ health insurance will continue offering coverage to the dependent child even when he/she reaches the age of 25 as long as he/she is a full-time student and is unmarried. However, some health insurance plans will set the limit on the age of 18. Therefore, once you reach the age of 18, you will lose the coverage from your parents’ group health insurance plan.
You will be able to get more generous coverage from parents’ employer health insurance plan than in other ways. Besides, the type of health insurance can’t exclude you because of pre-existing conditions. There is something you should pay special attention to. In some cases, full coverage is only available in the area where your parents live. When you attend a college which is far away from your home, you may not qualify for your parents’ plan. Therefore, you should make it clear before you choose this type of health insurance plan.
3. Your College’s Health Insurance
According to the report made by the Government Accountability Office in 2008, over 50% of colleges and universities offered health insurance to students after they have been enrolled. If you have not got health insurance or are unable to get health insurance by other means, you will be allowed to get the health insurance plan offered by colleges. This source will make college students receive health insurance coverage at a relatively low cost. College students should pay annual premiums ranging from $30 to $2,400 and the average premium is about $850.
Colleges’ health insurance plans successfully keep the diseases like colds, flu and other infectious diseases from spreading across campus. However, in some cases, health insurance plans fail to cover major medical diseases. When you suffer from a severe disease, your medical bills will not be covered by the plan in some cases. Then you should pay the bills by yourself. It will be necessary for you to get a single comprehensive health insurance plan from your college. The health insurance plan should cover preventive care, doctor’s visits, X-rays, prescription drugs, mental health care, medical evacuation, lab fees and chemotherapy.
4. Employers’ Health Insurance
As long as you are employed, you can try to get health insurance coverage from your employers. Employers’ group health insurance plan is among one of the most affordable plans for college students. Employers pay part or even all of the premiums. Your current health status or medical history will not be considered when you qualify for the type of health insurance. You are eligible for the plan on the first date when you are employed. If you do not take part in the plan within 30 days, you should wait until the next open enrollment period.
Some employers’ health insurance plans come with several plans at various rates. However, there are usually no enough options of coverage available to you. Depending on the scales of the company and the types of the group health insurance, the coverage and the costs of the health insurance plans differ.
5. Individual Health Insurance
When you are unable to get coverage by the means above, you can purchase health insurance from one insurance company by yourself. You can add or cut the coverage based on your actual needs. The cost of the plan is decided by the coverage and thus is usually expensive. The plan usually requires you to have a medical evaluation to check whether you have any pre-existing condition. Once a health insurance provider turns down your application, you should keep searching new one. Your pre-existing conditions will be covered by some insurance providers, although, at relatively high prices. In 2014, health insurance providers will be forbidden to set a pre-existing condition waiting period or exclude someone because of pre-existing medical conditions.
You can get coverage from an indemnity or managed care plan. Indemnity plan gives you greater flexibility in obtaining health services. You are allowed to get any service from any licensed doctor and physician. The premise is that the service should be subject to the terms of the health insurance policy. Although managed care plans can’t give you such freedom, you can limit your budget easily as they are more affordable. If you worry about the costs of the health insurance coverage, you may consider short-term coverage which is much cheaper.
Anyway, you should check whether the health insurance providers you are considering are licensed or not. Lacking of experiences, many college students have been trapped into fraud and couldn’t get effective health insurance. A licensed health insurance agent will be more reliable and helpful.
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