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Cheap Student Health Insurance - How Can I Find Cheap Student Health Insurance?

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If the recent H1N1 epidemic taught us anything at all it was that college students need not just health insurance but health insurance they can afford – cheap student health insurance, in other words. H1N1 – sometimes known as “swine flu” – selectively targeted young adults; timely treatment made all the difference between a manageable infection and an illness that dragged on for weeks – sometimes even resulting in death!

Medical attention is expensive. Without insurance, students put off getting the treatments they need. A 2002 study sponsored by the Heinz Family Philanthropies and the Chickering Group found that students without health insurance were far more likely to drop out of school – either because they had fallen so far behind in their coursework that they despaired of being able to catch up, or because when they finally did go in for medical treatment it was so expensive that they had to find a job to pay their bills.

Cheap student health insurance is a necessity. But where can you find it? How can you make sure you stay insured?

• Your Parents Policy

If you are between the ages of 19 and 25 and you are listed on your parents’ health insurance policy, coverage will continue while you are a college or university student. Have your parents check with their insurance agent to see what special arrangements may need to be made. If, for example, they are members of a PPO (Preferred Provider Organization), it may take some searching before you locate a physician in your area who is eligible for reimbursement under your parents’ plan, especially if your college or university is far away from your home.

COBRA, or the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1985

But what if you’re a student but you’re over 25, or you’re the right age but you’ve decided to take a semester off? Under the terms of COBRA, or the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1985, you are still be able to continue receiving benefits under your parents’ plan for up to 36 months. COBRA is expensive; your parents’ health insurance provider will offer you the same price they charge the business through which the insurance is provided – which, in most cases, is considerably more than what your parents were paying out of pocket.

• Health Insurance Through Your College or University

Most colleges and universities sponsor campus health care programs. The cost is usually covered by your tuition. These clinics are not set up to deal with serious injuries or illnesses however, so prudence dictates you maintain catastrophic health coverage through another provider even if you do decide to take advantage of this option.

New Jersey, Idaho, Illinois, Montana, and California make having health care insurance a provision of student enrollment. Many schools in these states offer their own packages of cheap student health insurance, or work in partnership with an insurance company to offer affordable rates.

Some institutions also offer a “bridge” policy for new graduates, which allows them to remain covered under their student plan until they are able to find employment.

Short-Term Health Insurance

Many insurance companies specialize in writing short term health insurance policies that last between one and six months, and can be renewed for a total of 36 months. These short-term policies contain many specifically worded limitations and exclusions, and they generally exclude pre-existing conditions. They are not cheap student health insurance, but they are insurance! If you choose to pursue short-term insurance, pick a policy with a high deductible to keep your costs under control, and plan on paying for your routine medical costs out of pocket.

Individual Health Insurance

Individual health insurance policy premiums are very expensive compared to group health insurance provided through most employment. That is because the risk pool is so much smaller! In order to qualify for an individual policy, many insurance companies will require a medical examination. Again, you would be well advised to choose a catastrophic plan with a high deductible. Yes, you may end up paying for routine physician’s visits and prescription drugs, but the safety net will be there if – God forbid – you ever have to use it.

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