Health insurance is another one of those budget line items that many people tend to forget when they budget for college. Generally, health insurance would be considered a fixed expense as it will not fluctuate. You either pay one lump sum premium or make monthly payments. If you make payments, they will be the same amount each month making it a fixed expense. There are a couple of things to keep in mind about your health insurance options. If you are a student, health insurance is usually mandatory while you are enrolled, with some exceptions we’ll explain below.
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Colleges can be aggressive about tacking the charge onto your tuition bill as just another “item." It’s common for people to not even notice it mixed in with all of the other fees unless you take your time and itemize everything. You can get the health insurance charge deducted by submitting a waiver to your school. If you are not lucky enough to already be covered, now is the time to do a little legwork on this line item for your college budget. Here are your three options regarding health insurance if you are a college student:
Get or Keep Health Insurance Under Your Parents/Guardians
The thing with health insurance is that the law continues to change. However, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, “Under current law, if your plan covers children, you can now add or keep your children on your health insurance policy until they turn 26 years old.” If this is the case and you are lucky enough to have parents taking care of this expense for you and are under 26, then you don’t have to worry as much. The cost will vary for parents depending upon their healthcare coverage under their employer or group and is generally deducted right from their payroll check as a pre-tax deduction.
Sign up Under the Affordable Care Act
If you choose to enroll under the Affordable Care Act you will find that premiums for an 18- to 24-year-old individual averages at approximately $257 per month. That equals $3,084 annually before any low-income subsidies that you may be eligible for are applied. Since you are a college student, it’s likely that your income may be on the lower side, so you may actually qualify for a government subsidy, also known as the premium tax credit. This could make your monthly premium much more affordable.
Take Your College-Offered Health Insurance
The American College Health Association reports that the average health insurance plan for students through their universities costs $1500-$2500 annually. All college health plans must meet the standards for student health insurance and benefits coverage through the American College Health Association. The coverage is comprehensive and will cover you in a comparable way to other health insurance options mentioned above.
How to Choose the Health Insurance Plan That’s Best for You
There are important things you will want to keep in mind that help you to personalize the choice. If you have certain medical conditions, need particular medications, or are moving out of state, you may want to do more research to explore and compare which options are best for your particular situation.
For example, if you are currently covered under one of your parents in one particular state, but you are going to college across the country, then many of the basic wellness visits, sick exams, etc. may not be covered under a plan so far away. Additionally, your doctor may no longer be an in-network provider. If this example matches your situation, you may want to consider the university plan or the Affordable Care Act plan. Regardless of which option you choose, know that you have a choice. Make sure to do your homework to find the best, most affordable choice for your personal needs.