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Health Insurance for Students

The importance of Health Insurance for students should not be underestimated. College students, and especially, recent graduates looking for their first job should explore their Health Insurance options beforehand in order not to be left uninsured. The problem is that students have to find a good balance between affordable expenses and coverage that works well for their situation.

Colleges in some states may require you to have Health Insurance to enroll. Sometimes, your college may offer individual Health Insurance for students. Find out whether your college has partnership with insurance companies, - it can offer competitive rates to students.

Some colleges may offer a Health Insurance plan through the school’s health center. College health care plans have their advantages and drawbacks, and it depends on the college whether the health insurance plan it offers is a good deal. Some plans only cover medical care within the college’s area, which means that a student won’t be covered on a summer break, or while traveling. 

Though most colleges offer free or low-cost health care at the on-campus clinic, many require payment for prescription drugs, and some college health plans may be rather expensive. Besides, many college clinics are not meant to deal with serious injuries or illnesses. It means that students still need hospital coverage and possibly prescription drug coverage too, in case something serious occurs.

Students may have to make a choice between expensive Health Insurance and living on their own or buying a car. A lot of recent graduates need to make large monthly payments for their college loan debt, and making insurance payments can be too much to handle before they have found a good job. Not all graduates manage to land a job directly after graduation, and not all of those jobs come with proper Health Insurance.

Sometimes students who are already signed up for the university health plan are allowed to remain enrolled for a short period after their graduation. This period can be extended with a “bridge policy” which covers a short gap between the time the student’s health insurance plan expires and the time an employer’s policy comes into effect.

Most college students are covered under their parents’ insurance plans until they graduate. It allows most students not to think about Health Insurance during their college years.

However, some parents’ plans may not suit some students, as programs may have restrictions such as to use in-network doctors and health facilities only, and it may turn out that there are none of them near your school.

Most insurers have the rules which state that your parents have to drop you from the plan by the age of 19 if you’re not a full-time student. In case you are still a full-time student, the age is extended up to 22 or 23. 

In some states the rules are less strict: for example, Texas, Illinois, New Mexico, South Dakota, and Colorado extend the coverage up to 25 years, while in New Jersey insurers allow adult children to stay on their parents’ coverage until the age of 30, provided that the children have no dependents and both parents and children are New Jersey residents.

In some cases, COBRA can serve as a temporary Health Insurance solution for students and graduates. Under COBRA federal law, health insurance providers should allow continuing coverage for up to 36 months for those who are dropped from their plans. This law includes adult children as well. However, COBRA can be rather expensive for young people.

Another option with a time limit is short-term coverage. It can cover you for about 12 months. Though these plans are often very flexible and you can pay by month in case you aren’t sure when you will need to stop coverage, they don’t usually cover pre-existing conditions, and can’t be renewed. You can find short-term plans through private insurers, or through your college’s alumni association.

Unemployed recent college graduates can also choose a high-deductible health insurance plan. Mind that such plans won’t cover preventive care or prescription drugs.

Different insurance providers offer coverage at different rates. As you can see, benefits can vary widely as well. Therefore, it is important to comparison shop for your Health Insurance. Be particular about having thorough answers to the questions about the deductible and how the cost will change with different deductibles. Find out the maximum you would be covered for and particularly, what you won’t be covered for. Also, it is important to know whether there are restrictions on which physicians you can use and whether you need a referral to see a specialist. Make sure you are covered as a graduate student, and your plan isn’t restricted to undergrads only. It is not easy to find the insurance that suits your needs if your budget is limited, but there are options you can choose from.