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How can I get health insurance as a college student? Consumer Q&A

By on August 5th, 2011
Filed: Advice, Back to School, Facts, Health Insurance, You, Young Adults

Just when you think summer is finally on, you discover it’s practically over. I recall feeling that way as an eight-year-old boy on summer break. Thirty years later, time only seems to move faster. Retailers are already hanging up their signs for this year’s back-to-school sales. It’s ridiculous.

But the calendar waits for no man (it won’t hold the door open for a lady either), so it’s only natural that we should start running across Yahoo Answers questions like one we took last week. The asker mentioned that she was a college student – and all she wanted to know was: How do I go about getting health insurance?

It’s a question a lot of incoming freshman (and their parents) are probably asking themselves about now. So what should they do? Well, the eHealthInsurance reply was chosen as Best Answer:

As a college student, you may be required to have health insurance before you can enroll in classes, as you probably know. Generally speaking, you have a few options:

You could stick with your parents’ health insurance plan as long as you are under age 26. This assumes, of course, that your parents have health insurance in the first place and that they live in the same state in which you will be going to school (coverage under most plans is often limited to a specific area.)

You could also look into school-sponsored health insurance options. Some colleges and universities offer their own health insurance plans for students. Just pay close attention to the coverage levels and the benefits they offer. Do they limit you to services rendered on campus? Is there a dollar limit on coverage per year? What happens in the summer? Be careful you don’t end up with something that won’t really provide the protection you need.

There are also “student health insurance plans” that are not sponsored by schools. Some of these are more flexible, though, again, you should be careful about dollar caps on your coverage.

Last but not least, you can check out your options in the individually-purchased health insurance market. Contact your local health insurance agent or visit a licensed online agent like eHealthInsurance. Compare quotes and benefits from different plans carefully to find the best match for your needs and budget.

One more thing. We actually wrote a health insurance buyer’s guide for students in your position. You can check it out online.

Stay tuned to Get Smart – Get Covered for more health insurance tips for students in the coming weeks.

Photo via Flickr user DorkyMum

About Douglas Dalrymple

Doug Dalrymple is a member of the communications team at eHealth, Inc. and has worked in the health insurance and technology industries for fifteen years. He works on communications strategy, content creation and management, project management, and corporate messaging.

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