Health insurance is a major issue in the United States today since a large majority of the population lacks adequate health care coverage. Compounding the problem is the fact that insurance premiums are often expensive and don't cover all necessary services or providers. College students are one of the largest percentages of the population who lack adequate coverage or do not have health insurance. This is a result of many not being able to afford it due to strict financial constraints. Some also believe health insurance isn't necessary since they are young and healthy. However nothing could be further from the truth since accidents and illness can occur at any time. College students need to purchase health insurance coverage to protect them in the event something happens, and this can be done by first comparing the different plans and options available.
Things You Will Need
Check into free options. Ask your parents what health insurance company they have their plan through, and check to see what stipulations the insurance provider has for covering college students. Many insurance companies allow students enrolled full or part-time at a college, university or other higher education institution to continue being covered by their parents health insurance under a family plan until they turn 23. The recent healthcare regulations passed by Congress and approved by President Obama are making it easier for college students to be enrolled under their parent's plan. In addition, it extends the age to 26 making it possible for even graduate students to continue to have health insurance through their parents. Getting on your parents' plan is an excellent way to get health insurance coverage since it doesn't generally cost too much more if your parents have other children enrolled in their family plan.
Ask the staff in the college's admissions office. Many of the recruiters and admission's staff at colleges and universities in the U.S. are aware of health insurance plans designed for college students. Some insurance companies cater specifically to college students which often allows them to provide lower rates than general health insurance providers. Most recruiting offices at colleges and universities have brochures or pamphlets from a company which details the different insurance plans they provide including the type, amount and cost of health insurance coverage. Often this insurance is provided at a discount rate since these companies understand that college students are on a budget and are usually unable to afford high premiums similar to what other insurance companies charge.
Contact general health insurance providers. Learn who the major health insurance companies are in your state or area via the Internet or talking to healthcare providers. Place a phone call to the insurance companies and speak to a representative or agent. Inquire about the different health insurance options they provide for college students. Ask them to send you information in the mail about the plans they offer, what their rates are and what type of services are covered by their different healthcare plans.
Review the amount of coverage. Once you get the information from the different insurance providers take the time to read through it and examine all the documents they provided. Find out what deductible amounts their plans have since this is the amount you must pay before insurance will start covering any medical or healthcare costs. It's also important to learn the co-insurance rate, which is the amount the insurance pays until you reach the maximum amount for the benefit period. For example co-insurance of 80/20 requires the insurance company to pay 80 percent of expenses while you pay 20 percent after you've paid your deductible. The co-insurance continues until you reach your maximum amount for the benefit period which is generally somewhere between $1,000 and $5,000 for most insurance plans.
Learn about the services covered. Read the information about what type of services are covered by the insurance plan as well as which one the provider excludes. For example, some insurance providers won't cover expenses related to pregnancy and delivery of a baby if you are a new client and haven't met the waiting period of nine months or a year often required by the provider. Learn which medications are covered under the insurance plan and make sure that any you currently take will still be paid for by your insurance company. Check that the approved providers are in the town where your college or university is located since insurance companies may not pay your healthcare expenses if you use a provider that's not in their network of approved physicians and healthcare organizations.
Obtain quotes. Once you've reviewed all of the different information from insurance providers, contact two to three of the companies you prefer to get a quote for their different plans. Speak to a representative from the insurance company and learn how much your premium would be for a college student health plan each month. Compare the quotes from the different insurance providers once you've received them. Consider services, providers, deductible amounts and co-insurance rates in addition to the monthly premium amount, since the lowest cost doesn't always provide the best insurance. Once you've chosen the healthcare plan you want to use, complete the paperwork required to become insured. Receive your health insurance cards in the mail, and begin using them to save money on healthcare expenses and pay for emergency services in the event of an accident or severe medical problems.
Tips & Warnings
When reviewing different insurance providers and plans, it's important to check which plans work with the health services available at your college or university. As a student, chances are you will use the student health center for doctor's appointments, medications and other basic healthcare needs since it is convenient and generally cheaper since a portion of student fees finance the center. Finding an insurance provider that includes the college's student health center in its network of approved providers can save you lots of money, especially if your insurance plan requires a co-pay for doctor's office visits.
Understand that the national healthcare bill passed in 2010 by the Obama administration requires all citizens of the United States to have health insurance by 2014. College students will be required to have some type of coverage either on their own or through their parent's health insurance plan.