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Health Care

In preparing for that move to college, one item parents (and students) often overlook is health insurance.  Most colleges require that students maintain health insurance, and many colleges offer their own insurance plan, which is often seen as a line item on the tuition bill.

If your student is covered under a parent’s health insurance plan, or is insured under an independent plan, they may be able to “waive” the insurance offered by the college if they submit the appropriate waiver form by the deadline required by the school. Some colleges have minimum coverage requirements, so it is important to check the college website to find out if your student’s existing plan meets those requirements to determine if waiver is an option. If your student’s plan is an HMO, you may also want to check to see how the plan will handle coverage if your student ‘s college is outside the HMO service area.

If your student does not already have insurance coverage, the school health insurance plan, which can often be expensive, is not the only option.  As long as it meets the school’s minimum coverage requirements, policies offered under the Affordable Care Act may provide more affordable options for students seeking their own independent policy. If your student is considering enrolling in the health insurance plan offered by the college, make sure the coverage is valid when school is not in session (such as during the summer or school breaks). Some plans may only apply during the school year.

Students planning to study abroad may have the opportunity to purchase additional health insurance to cover any health-related incidents that may occur while the student is in another country.  While this may be a good idea for some, depending on where your student will be studying, check with your student’s current insurance plan to find out how they handle reimbursements for doctors and hospitals in another country. You may also want to do some research on the cost of health care in the specific country your student will be visiting. In some cases, you may find that the costs are significantly less than what you might pay in the U.S., which may affect your decision to purchase additional insurance. [For instance, when one of our sons became sick in Argentina and was taken to the hospital where he stayed overnight, received 3 bags of fluid for dehydration, and was treated by a doctor, the total bill, which would be thousands of dollars in the U.S., was approximately $100.]

In addition to the health insurance requirement, many colleges have a mandatory student health services fee.  This fee is generally used to support the on-campus clinical, preventative care, and mental health services facilities, where students can obtain services at no additional or at a low cost.  It allows your kid to go to the on-campus health center and receive treatment –when they get that killer sore throat making its way around the dorm! This fee may also be shown as a line item on the tuition bill and typically cannot be waived.


Want to know more?

6 Health Insurance Options for College Students by Chris Kissell

Health Care Coverage and College: What Parents Should Know by Kelli Anderson, BSN, RN III, CPN

Sick at School

Staying Healthy at College


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