Many colleges and universities provide different types of health insurance or major medical insurance plans for students. Some even cover graduate students or alumni. This is in addition to the standard employee benefits that these institutions offer to faculty and other staff.
Each student has his or her own particular financial situation and health insurance needs that determine whether college and university insurance will be helpful. Here are some of the main considerations for figuring out whether to enroll in a major medical insurance policy offered through a school.
Family Plan Coverage
One big issue with college or university insurance is related to what kind of coverage a student could have by remaining on a family insurance plan covered by a parent’s employer. In some cases, family plans can include children of up to college age for less than they would have to pay when joining a university policy. However, with the high cost of tuition and relatively low cost of college or university health insurance, as well as on-campus healthcare facilities, many students choose to be covered by a school because it’s a better bargain.
One thing that makes this question important is the provision in the Affordable Care Act that allows children to remain on a parent’s policy up to age 26. This means that fewer students utilize college and university plans because more of them have an additional option.
Another big issue with college and university insurance is that most of these policies will only cover full-time students enrolled for the long term. Students taking one class, students who will not be present for the next semester, or other students who are not taking long-term studies with the school may not benefit much from a college or university plan.
Coverage Versus Cost
When evaluating college or university insurance, a student still has to look at the issue of value for cost, or how much coverage a policy provides against the cost of premiums. Some plans, often called “mini medical plans,” offer deceptively little coverage, while others may have high deductibles or other exclusions. It’s important to read the details of an insurance policy contract to determine whether it will be worth having insurance through the school.
Many students elect to use university insurance so as not to have a lapse of coverage. Lapses of coverage can be extremely costly if an emergency happens, and someone without insurance needs medical care. That’s why some students take on high-premium college or university plans or other plans with limited coverage, even if they do not seem like the best bargain. With that in mind, some students can shop for individual plans on the open market, and with additional ACA provisions coming into play in 2014, that strategy may become more popular.
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