Your Guide to Health Insurance for College Students

Which college will you choose? How will you decorate your dorm room? Do you live with a pre-selected roommate or a friend? Should you get an apartment or live on campus? There are so many things for students to consider when preparing to go to college… including health insurance. 

That’s right, setting up your own health insurance is a catapult into adulthood you may need to consider as a college student. 

Health insurance for college students is a big deal, but it doesn’t have to be difficult. We will help you determine if you need health insurance in college and (if you do) how to know which one is a good fit for you. 

What Is Health Insurance for College Students?

Having health insurance during college is key for taking preventative health measures, treating symptoms and illnesses, and covering the costs of any urgent health issues that may arise. Health insurance alleviates the financial burden of prescriptions, appointments and emergency visits, and vision, dental, or mental health services. It’s a necessity for staying healthy and potentially avoiding costly medical bills. 

Even if you are generally healthy, emergencies could arise. You don’t need medical bills on top of college costs and student loan debt!

Do I Need Health Insurance in College?

Many colleges and universities require proof of insurance upon enrollment or before classes start, especially if you are living on campus. Four or more years is a long time to go without having insurance coverage. You could incur a high amount of debt from emergency medical bills, or even from routine medical visits within that span of time. 

And college is a crowded place—you never know when you are going to catch an illness from a classmate or get injured while participating in recreational activities. There are too many things that can happen that could be detrimental to your health (and your bank account) to not have health insurance in college. It’s better to be safe than sorry in this case. 

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Health Insurance Options for College Students

The good news is, there are plenty of options for coverage. There are even options for health insurance for college students with no income and cheap health insurance for college students who are on a budget. To guide you along in finding which coverage is right for you, we have outlined some options below:

1. Stay On Your Parents’ Health Insurance Plan

Even if your parents do not claim you as a dependent on their tax return, you can stay on their insurance plan until you are 26. This is usually very affordable. If you are going to college in the same state as your parents, there should be no issue in keeping you on their plan. If you are going to college in a different state than your parents, you may still be able to stay on their plan. Call the insurance company for more information on their specific requirements. 

2. Student Health Plans

If you cannot receive the same coverage in the state you are attending college, you will need to enroll in your own health insurance coverage. You may be able to reduce premiums or qualify for special enrollment periods, along with other benefits to having your own coverage.

Many colleges and universities offer student health plans for students who are currently enrolled. These plans are a great option for cheaper health insurance, as they tend to be more affordable for college students than private insurance. They also typically comply with the Affordable Care Act guidelines, which cover essential health needs. 

You may be able to include these costs within your tuition and fees, but it could accrue interest over time, which means you could spend more money in the long run. Another catch here is that your coverage will most likely end once you are no longer a student, so you will be looking for other options upon graduation.

3. Qualify for Coverage Through a Job or Spouse

If you are married or planning to be married, you can be added to your spouse’s insurance during qualifying enrollment periods. This is a great option for health insurance for college students with no income, as your spouse may be bringing in income and paying your monthly premiums. Of course, we do not advise you to marry someone just for their health insurance! Some insurance companies may also allow you to enroll for coverage if you are in a domestic partnership.

Alternatively, some companies offer health insurance coverage for part-time employees. If you are only able to work part-time, you may be able to find a company that will offer health insurance. This tends to be a good option for affordable health insurance for college students, considering the company may pay a portion of your monthly premiums. 

The Best Health Insurance for College Students

If none of the above are options for you, you can also enroll on your own plan through the Health Insurance Marketplace or directly through an insurance company. A great option for health insurance for college students is Blue Cross Blue Shield (BCBS). Over 90% of providers in nearly all states offer coverage through BCBS, and you may have the option to choose different tiers of coverage.

Following that, UnitedHealthcare is also a less expensive health insurance option for college students. Their plans and premiums tend to be more affordable, and they have a variety of in-network providers as well as other benefits. 

We understand that there are endless decisions to be made when it comes to picking the right college, and one of the most important ones is solidifying your health insurance coverage. As always, we recommend you do the research to find the option that fits your situation best.


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