Most young people feel they’re nearly invincible and that their bodies will quickly bounce back from any injury or illness. College students shouldn’t have to find out the hard way they’re just as susceptible to accidents, mental illness, sickness and injury as adults. College students also shouldn’t have to learn the hard way how essential it is to have proper health coverage. Understanding your options and how they work is essential to staying in good physical, mental and financial health while you complete college.

Parent Health Plans

Just like college students might be able to stay on their parent’s auto insurance plan from, they might also be able to stay on their parent’s health insurance plan until they reach the age of 26. While this is a good option, students should realize the fact that their parents’ coverage might not apply if they attend an out-of-state college. Something else to think about is the fact that students can lose coverage if a parent loses her or his job. What it all boils down to is even if you can be added to your parents’ health insurance plan, it’s good to have a backup plan so you aren’t left without coverage if worse turns to worse.

Health Plans Offered by the School

Some schools provide Student Health Insurance Plans, which essentially means the school is responsible for paying claims instead of an insurance company. One of the great things about this type of health coverage is that financial aid can pay for it. It’s also possible your school’s plan offers more services than your parents’ plan. That being said, a Student Health Insurance Plan might be more expensive than standard individual health insurance coverage. In either case, it’s an option that’s most certainly worth exploring to see how much merit it offers.

Catastrophic Coverage

College students worried about the costs involved with expensive medical treatments, long-term hospital stays and the like might the idea of applying for catastrophic coverage. While this type of health insurance is great for the above scenarios, it comes with extremely high deductibles, sometimes as much as $6,000. On the upside, catastrophic coverage includes three primary care office visits and preventative services offered free of charge; anything more is your financial responsibility. Catastrophic coverage could make for a viable option until you land a job that offers health benefits.

Temporary Insurance

Temporary health insurance provides you with coverage that lasts anywhere from three months to a full year. Usually, this type of health coverage is reserved for times when an old plan is no longer available and you have yet to find a replacement plan you like. Usually, you can receive quick coverage with this option, and you might find it more affordable than a comprehensive plan. One of the downsides of a temporary medical policy is it doesn’t cover primary or preventative care. If you have any pre-existing conditions, short-term insurance may not cover them.


College students who come from low-income families might have the option of receiving health coverage through Medicaid. Students still considered to be dependents on their parents’ tax returns will have to use their parent’s income to see if they qualify for Medicaid health coverage. Something to bear in mind with Medicaid coverage is the fact that the option isn’t available in every state. If you were in foster care and are starting to age out of the system, you stand a good chance of receiving coverage.


Those who will soon be college graduates and become too old to remain on their parents’ health insurance can look into medical coverage offered by the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act, more commonly referred to as COBRA. This particular medical coverage option offers you the same coverage you had with your parents’ plan for another 36 months past your 26th birthday. COBRA coverage can be rather expensive, with premiums running as high as 102 percent. Much like short-term health insurance, COBRA can serve as a bridge over troubled healthcare waters while you search for a job with an employer who offers health benefits or find an individual policy you like.

You’re surely learning much more about life than what you absorb in your classes. As you’re working towards your degree, take steps to protect your health and your peace of mind.

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