Health Plans for College Students
Sending children off to college is a bittersweet moment. On the one hand, you’re proud to have raised them into responsible adults. On the other hand, you are afraid to let them go. Making sure your college student has the right medical coverage is one way to bolster your piece of mind. You never know what type of medical treatment your child will need while he or she is away, so try to get the most coverage you can afford.
If your child has been covered under your health insurance whether it’s group insurance or individual insurance, odds are that the coverage will remain available until the child is 24 years old. This usually applies even if the child doesn’t live in the home. Of course, you’ll have to keep paying for it, and you may have to pay an increased premium. Keeping your college bound child on your plan, however, isn’t always the best choice. Most colleges offer health plans through the school that have been subsidized by tuition to make them quite affordable.
College health plans vary greatly from school to school. Generally, these plans provide most of the coverage a college student needs. Preventative care including regular pelvic exams and PAP tests is usually included, but it may not be as extensive as a traditional policy. Most of the care your child will receive is from the student health center. These centers are set up to treat most minor ailments and injuries and may have specialists visit on a weekly basis. Students are not usually charged anything to visit the student health center when they have the college health plan. Some plans, however, may charge for lab work, X-rays, and other diagnostic testing. Prescriptions usually require a fee, but much of that fee is often covered by the plan.
Depending on what type of health plan your family has, it may be a good idea to purchase the college health plan even when your child is still covered under yours. Some health plans make it complicated for a college student to receive treatment out of state, for example. If you have to get a referral for out-of-network care, it may be too complicated for you child to receive treatment while at school. In those cases, it’s useful to supplement your child’s medical coverage with a college plan that makes getting treatment easy.
You may be wondering if your child is covered when he or she is home on holiday or summer break. Different college plans handle these situations differently, so be sure to inquire about these times before you sign-up. In general, most college health plans allow coverage for out-of-state providers, but they will not cover 100% of the charges. Much like a PPO health plan, the college plan will only pay something like 70% of the charges and a deductible will have to be met before coverage kicks in. That way your child still has some coverage while away from school. Of course, if your child remains on your health plan, these times will already be covered.
When deciding whether a college health plan is right for your child, be sure to examine the coverage closely. Check if pre-existing conditions such as asthma will be covered. Check how emergency room visits are handled. Find out what is available for free at the health center. College health plans are usually a cost-effective and convenient choice for college students, but you have to make that decision based on your child’s needs.