In families with health insurance, a college student remains eligible for coverage as a dependent until graduation. This article is about health care options for the student who does not have coverage through the family policy.
Many universities provide some degree of health care for their students. In the larger schools, this usually amounts to a contractual arrangement with a local HMO. Some schools provide better coverage than others but, for the most part, the group policy has limited coverage and relatively high copayments for anything other than the most basic doctor visit. The student is also confined to the medical facilities and staff provided by the contracting HMO.
There are a number of student health insurance options on the market that vary somewhat from standard policies and manage to keep the monthly premium at a reasonable level. Fortis Insurance offers Student Select, a student health plan that applies an annual deductible of between $250 and $500. The choice is yours and is reflected in your monthly premium. After the deductible is met, Fortis will pay 80% of every medical bill that comes along, up to a total of $10,000. Thereafter, Fortis pays 100% of costs.
The coverage is fairly comprehensive. It includes emergency and hospitalization, X-ray and lab costs, doctor visits and intensive care coverage as an inpatient. Coverage does not extend to pre-existing conditions, pregnancy, prescription drugs or substance abuse care. This is a PPO, or preferred provider plan, meaning you can select the physician and facility that you wish to provide treatment.
There are also short-term health insurance policies available for people in transition, which might well include seniors or students who are transferring. These policies are good for three to twelve months and are also usually PPO plans that allow choice of health provider. Deductibles on the basics such as doctor visits are usually low. Depending on the policy, the deductible on inpatient services may range from 20% to 50%.
Sometimes a policy like this is a good bet. If you are young and healthy, the coverage that is important to you is for doctor services, medication, emergency treatment and checkups. Coverage for serious illness or extended hospitalization may not be a necessary investment. Short-term policies often provide this sort of minimal coverage, which may be plenty for a college student.
Aetna has a program that offers medical coverage over and above that provided by the student’s university. This concept includes a dental option and a behavioral health component. Health coverage enhancement such as this is another worthwhile option to explore if the campus health center is inadequate in the student’s eyes.
Another option the student can explore is locating the most inexpensive HMO in the area and selecting their most inexpensive plan. HMOs tend to keep their copays low for basic services; if basic services are all that is anticipated, it is another cost-effective choice for a student to pay for basic coverage and hope for continued good health.