8 Best Health Insurance For College Students

Health insurance is not typically a top priority for young individuals while they’re in school, but it’s a crucial consideration for college students. Having coverage is essential in case of an emergency to avoid accumulating significant medical debt.

Young adults, including college students, have a relatively high rate of being uninsured. Approximately 30% of young adults do not have health insurance, leaving them vulnerable to unexpected medical expenses.

The cost of medical care can be significant. For example, repairing a broken limb can cost around $7,500, and a three-day hospital stay can be as expensive as $30,000. Without health insurance, you would be responsible for covering these expenses entirely.

When you’re in college, you have several options for obtaining health insurance. These options include coverage through your parent’s plan, insurance provided by your college or university, or purchasing insurance independently if you don’t have access to these types of plans.

What Is Student Health Insurance?

Student health insurance involves paying a monthly premium to a company in exchange for partial coverage of medical expenses such as doctor visits, prescription drugs, and hospital stays.

Insurance Options for Students

Coverage Provided by the School: Many colleges and universities offer insurance plans for their students.

Health Insurance Marketplace: You can enroll in an insurance plan through Healthcare.gov, where you may qualify for subsidies based on your income.

Medicaid: Depending on your income and location, you might be eligible for Medicaid, a government insurance program for low-income individuals.

Private Insurance Plans: You can also choose a private insurance plan, which may or may not meet the Affordable Care Act (ACA) regulations but can still provide coverage for accidents or illnesses.

Cost of College Student Health Insurance

The cost of health insurance for college students depends on factors such as income, state of residence, and student status. For example, Medicaid-eligible low-income students may pay $0 monthly for coverage, while school-provided insurance typically costs between $1,500 and $2,500 per year. Rates for plans from the Health Insurance Marketplace are determined by tier and deductible, and subsidies may lower costs for eligible individuals.

Best Health Insurance Options for College Students

Here are some options you can choose from as a college student.

1. Insurance Offered by the School

Pros:

Cost-Effective: School insurance plans typically cost between $1,500 and $2,500 per year, making them more affordable than many individual insurance plans.

Financial Aid: Premiums for school insurance plans are often included in your tuition and fees, and you can pay for them with financial aid, making it easier for students to afford coverage.

On-Campus Access: With a school-provided plan, you can access healthcare services at on-campus student health clinics, which is convenient for students when they are sick.

Cons:

Limited Coverage Options: School insurance plans may offer limited coverage options, and you might not have the flexibility to customize your plan to your specific needs.

Network Limitations: These plans may have restricted networks, which means you may not be able to see your current doctors if they are not in-network, potentially disrupting existing healthcare relationships.

Full-Time Student Requirement: To be eligible for school insurance plans, you may need to be a full-time student, which can exclude part-time or non-traditional students.

Provider Limitations: You might not be able to keep your current medical providers if they are not part of the plan’s network, which could be a disadvantage if you have established relationships with specific healthcare professionals.

While school-provided insurance plans can be cost-effective and convenient for on-campus healthcare, they may have limited coverage options and provider networks.

It’s essential for students to carefully review these plans to ensure they meet their healthcare needs and consider whether they are eligible based on their student status.

2. IMG (International Medical Group)

Pros:

Customizable Plans: IMG offers a variety of insurance policies for international students that can be customized to match specific needs. This flexibility allows students to tailor their coverage to their unique requirements.

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High Maximum Limits: IMG provides plans with maximum limits of up to $8 million, ensuring comprehensive coverage in case of significant medical expenses.

Prescription Medicine Coverage: IMG plans include coverage for prescription medications, which is essential for accessing vital drugs while studying in the United States.

Additional Coverage Choices: Students can add extra coverage choices and riders to their policies, such as coverage for theft or loss of personal belongings and personal liability protection.

Suitable for International Students: IMG is particularly suitable for international students studying in the United States due to its specialized insurance plans designed to meet the unique needs of this demographic.

Cons:

Waiting Periods: Some IMG plans may have waiting periods for pre-existing conditions, so it’s important to review the specific terms and conditions of the chosen plan.

J.D. Power Ranking: IMG is not ranked by J.D. Power, which is a consideration for those who rely on such rankings for insurance provider assessments.

J1 and J2 Visa Requirements: Lower-tier choices may not meet the requirements for J1 and J2 visas, so international students on these visa types should carefully select the appropriate IMG plan.

IMG is recognized for its flexibility in providing customizable insurance plans for international students in the United States.

While it offers high maximum limits and prescription medication coverage, students should be aware of any waiting periods and ensure that their chosen plan aligns with their visa requirements if applicable.

For detailed information, it’s advisable to visit the official IMG website.

3. Everest

Pros:

Cost-Effective Short-Term Coverage: Everest offers short-term insurance policies that can be a cost-effective alternative to standard health insurance for college students. These policies provide temporary coverage at a lower cost than private insurance plans.

Customizable Options: Everest allows students to customize their coverage by selecting a deductible between $1,000 and $10,000, as well as a copay between $40 and $50. This flexibility allows students to tailor their premiums to fit their budget.

Variety of Coverage Levels: Students can choose their maximum coverage level, with options ranging from $250,000 to $1.5 million. This range of coverage levels ensures that students can select the appropriate amount of coverage based on their needs.

30-Day Free-Look Period: Everest policies include a 30-day free-look period, providing students with the opportunity to review their coverage and make changes if necessary.

Cons:

  • No Prescription Medicine Coverage: One limitation of Everest insurance is that prescription medicine coverage is not included. Students should be aware of this and consider their prescription medication needs separately.
  • Limited Availability: Everest policies may not be available in all states, so students should check whether this insurance option is offered in their location.

Everest offers short-term insurance options that can be especially suitable for college students looking for temporary and customizable coverage.

While it lacks prescription medication coverage and may not be available in all states, it provides flexibility and cost-effective choices.

For detailed information, visit the official Everest website.

4. Tokio Marine HCC Medical Insurance Services:

Pros:

Meets J-1 Visa Requirements: Tokio Marine HCC provides insurance plans that meet the requirements of the J-1 visa, making it a suitable choice for international students studying in the United States on J-1 visas.

Online Quote and Purchase: Students can easily obtain quotes and purchase coverage online, streamlining the process.

Additional Coverage Options: Tokio Marine HCC offers the option to add an accidental death and crisis response rider to coverage, enhancing the policy’s benefits. Personal liability coverage is also included with certain policies.

Emergency Dental and Prescription Drug Coverage: The insurance includes coverage for emergency dental care (up to $250 per tooth with a $500 maximum) and prescription drugs, which are essential for comprehensive healthcare.

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Cons:

Variable Waiting Periods and Pre-Existing Conditions: Some Tokio Marine HCC policies may have waiting periods or limited coverage for pre-existing conditions. Students should carefully review the terms and conditions of their chosen policy to understand these limitations.

Tokio Marine HCC Medical Insurance Services is a recommended option for international students, particularly those on J-1 visas, who require comprehensive coverage while studying in the United States.

It offers additional coverage choices and essential benefits like emergency dental and prescription drug coverage. Students should, however, be mindful of waiting periods and pre-existing condition limitations.

For more detailed information, visit the official Tokio Marine HCC website.

5. Pivot

Pros:

Convenient Telehealth Service: Pivot offers an around-the-clock telehealth service, making it convenient for students to access medical advice and consultations without the need for in-person visits to the doctor.

Flexible and Economical Policies: Pivot’s policies are designed to be flexible and cost-effective, making them suitable for students with varying schedules and budgets.

Customizable Plans: Students can customize their plans with options such as dental and vision coverage, allowing them to tailor their coverage to their specific needs.

Short Waiting Time: Short-term insurance policies, like Pivot, offer the advantage of a short waiting time for coverage to begin. This ensures that students can quickly access healthcare services.

Caps on Out-of-Pocket Costs: Pivot limits the maximum amount students will pay out-of-pocket with coinsurance, providing financial protection in case of high medical expenses.

Cons:

Limited Availability: Pivot may not be available in every state, so students should verify its availability in their location.

Cancellation Challenges: The process of canceling policies with Pivot may be difficult, so students should review cancellation terms before purchasing.

Pivot is a recommended option for students seeking short-term health insurance with the convenience of telehealth services and flexible, customizable policies.

However, students should ensure that Pivot operates in their state and understand the cancellation process before enrolling.

For detailed information, visit the official Pivot website.

6. Blue Cross Blue Shield (BCBS)

Pros:

Wide Coverage Network: BCBS has an expansive network of providers, ensuring that students can access a broad range of healthcare services and facilities.

Range of Coverage Tiers: BCBS offers a variety of coverage tiers, from catastrophic through fully comprehensive platinum plans, allowing students to choose the level of coverage that suits their needs.

Customizable Plans: Students can customize their plans with options like dental and vision insurance, tailoring their coverage to their preferences.

Availability: BCBS plans are available in all 50 states and internationally, providing coverage options for students regardless of their location.

Comprehensive Coverage Options: BCBS offers comprehensive coverage options with additional benefits and exclusive discounts.

Cons:

Limited Prescription Drug Coverage: Some BCBS plans may not include prescription drug coverage, so students should review plan details to ensure it meets their medication needs.

Complex Information: Finding specific information on BCBS websites can be challenging due to many independent entities and regional variations.

Blue Cross Blue Shield is a well-established and widely trusted option for healthcare coverage, with a broad network of providers and comprehensive coverage choices.

However, students should carefully review plan details, including prescription drug coverage, and be prepared to navigate the complexity of BCBS information sources when considering this option.

For more detailed information, visit the official BCBS website.

7. Aetna

Pros:

Affordable Premiums: Aetna offers catastrophic insurance plans with relatively low monthly premiums, making them suitable for college students on a budget.

Preventative Services: Aetna’s catastrophic plans include coverage for some preventative services, such as immunizations and screenings, as well as three primary care physician visits yearly.

Financial Security: Catastrophic plans can provide financial security in the event of a major medical emergency, as they typically cover essential healthcare costs once the deductible is met.

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Cons:

High Deductibles: Catastrophic plans often have high deductibles, which means students must pay a significant amount out of pocket before coverage kicks in.

Limited Availability: Aetna’s catastrophic plans may not be available in all states, limiting their accessibility to some students.

Age Restrictions: To be eligible for a catastrophic plan, students must be under 30 or meet the conditions for a hardship exemption.

Aetna’s catastrophic insurance plans can be a cost-effective option for low-income college students who do not qualify for Medicaid or premium subsidies.

These plans offer financial protection in case of a medical emergency but come with high deductibles that students should be prepared to cover.

Availability varies by state, so students should check if these plans are offered in their location by visiting the official Aetna website.

8. Cigna

Pros:

Range of Coverage Tiers: Cigna offers a range of coverage levels, from bronze to platinum plans, allowing students to choose a plan that aligns with their healthcare needs and budget.

$0 Preventative Care: Cigna plans provide $0 coverage for preventative care, including annual exams, flu vaccines, and health screenings, reducing out-of-pocket student costs.

Virtual Care: Cigna offers low-cost virtual care options, enabling students to consult with board-certified doctors over the phone or through video chat.

Comprehensive Coverage: Cigna’s comprehensive coverage options offer a wide range of benefits at a competitive price point.

Cons:

Income-Based Subsidies: While some students may be eligible for premium assistance through Cigna, eligibility is determined based on family income, and not all college students will qualify for subsidies.

Provider Network: Students may need to select healthcare providers within Cigna’s network, potentially requiring a change in healthcare practitioners.

Cigna provides a comprehensive range of healthcare coverage options, with plans designed to suit different needs and budgets. The $0 preventative care feature can benefit students looking to reduce healthcare costs.

While some students may qualify for premium assistance, others should be prepared to pay the full monthly premium.

Check network providers and subsidy eligibility on the official Cigna website.

FAQs

What Is Student Health Insurance?

Student health insurance involves paying a monthly premium to a health insurance company. In return, the insurer agrees to cover some of your medical expenses, including doctor visits, prescription medications, hospital stays, and various healthcare services.

This type of insurance is designed to help students manage their healthcare costs and access necessary medical care during their academic years.

Is it Possible for College Students to Use Their Parents’ Medical Insurance?

Yes, college students and young adults in the United States can typically stay on their parent’s health insurance policies until they reach the age of 26.

This provision is made possible by the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and allows young adults to remain covered under their parent’s health plans even if they are no longer living at home or financially dependent on their parents.

It offers young adults an option for obtaining health insurance while they are transitioning to independence.

Please note that healthcare regulations and insurance policies may vary by country, so you should check the specific rules and options available in your location.

Conclusion

Having health insurance is a crucial aspect of financial protection for college students. While some colleges and universities may require students to have insurance, even if it’s not mandatory, it’s a smart decision to ensure that you or your child is covered in case of unexpected medical expenses.

Medical emergencies and health issues can arise at any time, and having insurance provides peace of mind and financial security during these situations.

Carefully consider the available insurance options and select a plan that best fits your needs and budget to ensure you have access to necessary healthcare services when required.