by James Tuck
If you are a college student and think you cannot afford to have health insurance, you should think again. According to a 2007 survey conducted by the University of Minnesota Boynton Health Service, 27.1% of students had been diagnosed with a mental illness at some point in their lives. Over 38% were considered overweight or obese. Further, of those surveyed, about one-third carried credit card debt that they did not pay off monthly, and over half carried over $1,000 of credit card debt.
Young adults often do not obtain health insurance because they think they are young and healthy, and the cost of insurance is not worth the benefit. However, many college students do have underlying physical and mental health issues. They are under a significant amount of stress from their coursework and other activities they participate in or from holding down a job in addition to studies. Stress has been shown to weaken the immune system, and contributes to anxiety and other mental health issues. Further, medical expenses can add up. Even the cost of medical care and prescription drugs for a common respiratory illness or the flu can lead to hundreds of dollars of bills. An accident such as breaking an arm can amount to thousands of dollars of medical bills. Many are already carrying a sizable amount of debt, and even. those who do not often are strapped for cash due to paying for the cost of a college education. The fact is that you cannot afford to go without health insurance. There are some options to consider for finding cheap student health insurance.
Your Parents’ Policy
In 2010, Congress passed the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act that allow for young adults up to age 26 to remain on a parents’ policy. There are some exceptions to this. For instance, if the young adult qualifies for their own coverage through an employer sponsored plan, they are not permitted to remain on their parents’ policy. You do want to consider this option carefully as there are some nuances in place, including if a preferred provider under a PPO plan is located close to your college or university. For many students, however, this is a great option to consider.
You can contact your school’s health center or even the admissions or administrative office to determine if your school offers its own student health plan for cheap student health insurance. Some schools offer one plan for all students, and often this is a comprehensive plan that covers accidents and illnesses alike. Other schools may offer you the ability to customize your plan by including only coverage for accidents or only coverage for illnesses. Many of these plans require that you obtain your healthcare through the student health center located on campus or through participating testing and diagnostic centers.
Many college students today do work at least part-time hours. Many employers offer health benefits to employees who work full-time hours, and a select few offer benefits to those who work part-time hours. Take time to research your employer’s benefits package, and consider how many more hours per week you would need to work to qualify for coverage. You can also consider looking for employment elsewhere with another employer with a more attractive benefits plan.
Medicaid is another option for cheap student health insurance, but this is not an option available to everyone. This is a government-based program that is available to low income families, those with disabilities, and those whose family is struggling with high medical bills for on-going medical conditions. If you believe you or your family may qualify under this plan and are not currently enrolled, you can contact the Medicaid office for your state to see if you are eligible.
You can shop around for your own individual policy as well. When you purchase your own policy, you have a great deal of flexibility to find a plan with a co-pay, a deductible, and a premium that are suitable for your budget and needs. If you are young and health without underlying health conditions, you generally can obtain a decent rate on an individual policy.
There are numerous options available to you for finding cheap student health insurance. It can take some time to sort through all of the options available. However, given the possibility that you may be faced with high medical bills due to accident or illness, you do want to take the time today to shop around for coverage and find the best policy for your needs.