Student health insurance is available to both full and part-time students and even to students studying abroad. For students not listed on a parent's health insurance plan, these policies provide medical coverage, usually at a low cost.
Obtaining Student Health Insurance
Numerous companies offer student-specific health insurance plans. Some websites provide quotes from multiple student insurance companies. These companies will ask for the student's personal information, medical history, name of their school, enrollment status (full or part-time), and the types of coverage desired.
Here is a brief list of some of the most popular providers:
- Aetna Student Health
- United Healthcare Student Plans
- eStudent Insurance
- Go Health Insurance for Students
Picking the Best Policy
Before searching for health insurance dedicated to students, consider what the student needs. The majority of student insurance plans cover medical expenses, but some may not cover prescriptions. Other medical needs, such as dental and vision care, may also be excluded. Policy aspects to consider include:
- The amount of medical coverage provided
- Monthly premium amounts
- Co-payment and deductible amounts
- Whether coverage exists uninterrupted until graduation or only through the school-year
- Additional coverage types included in the policy, such as vision, dental or prescription
These considerations determine the types of policies that fit within the student's budget and which fill their medical needs. If possible, ask the insurance company questions about each of them. Compare multiple policies and carefully read each one to ensure that you understand it before signing a contract.
Student Insurance Basics
Student health insurance plans operate like traditional health insurance plans. The student selects a plan, pays a monthly premium, meets a copayment for specific services and, in turn, the insurance company pays for a portion (or all) of their medical expenses. The specific types of medical treatments covered depends on the chosen policy, but most pay for doctor's visits and hospital emergency room costs.
Students can usually select between a managed care plan, called an HMO and a fee-for-service plan, called a PPO. HMOs require visiting a general practitioner for any illnesses or injuries before seeing a specialist. PPO plans allow policy holders to see any physician they would like for treatment, provided that the physician is approved by the plan. HMO plans are usually less expensive than PPOs.
Unlike traditional insurance plans, however, student health insurance may only last for the academic school year and not the entire year. They may also only be available to students enrolled in a specific number of semester credit hours or attending school full-time according to their school's definition of a full-time student. Some student insurance plans may have maximum age limits. These limits mean that a policy is unavailable to a student over a certain age, even though they attend school full-time. If applicable, the most common age limit is 25 years.
Some schools offer insurance to their students. These policies are not managed by the school, but are instead offered through a partnership between the school and a private insurance . In this case, students in the school are still able to select a different insurance provider, but may find that the school's arranged policy is less expensive.
The Purpose of Student Health Insurance
Although many schools offer medical care to their students through free medical clinics, this option may not always be the best. Clinic staff usually consists of nurses and not a physician. Because nurses cannot write prescriptions, the clinic might be unable to assist a student with certain medical treatments. Additionally, school or university clinics may not have the equipment necessary for diagnosis or treatment.
Health insurance for students also allows the policy holder to visit an emergency room or a physician. Although policies cost money and physician visits might also be charged to the student, they provide more flexibility and access to medical care.