Today’s medical costs are very high. Now that you have the additional burden of tuition cost, what is the best way to provide health coverage for your son or daughter at college? There are a few different options to explore.
The College’s Plan
Most colleges provide health insurance for a fee. Many of these plans are high quality plans and usually cheaper than buying a comparable individual plan. Also, college plans will most likely cover services that are not available through the college health care clinic. Still you might have better coverage and save money considering another alternative.
Your Current Family Plan
Perhaps your current family medical plan will work very well for covering your college student. The first step is to call your insurance company to make sure it will cover college students. Some stipulations may be that the student must be full time, full coverage may only last until a student reaches the age of 18, maybe 21, or benefits may last for a student till a certain age limit but continue to cover with some benefits until he/she reaches 23 or 25. If you decide to cover your college student under your existing family health care policy, you still will want to evaluate the coverage.
For example, if your family is enrolled under an HMO, most medical expenses are only covered within a service area, perhaps one that does not include the region where your student attends college. An HMO will cover emergency care out of your service area; however now you must decide if your student can come home for regular medical services easily or not. You may want to ask your HMO if they will provide regular medical coverage through guesting privileges, which would allow your students to see a physician near his/her college campus if it is out of your service area. It is possible, too, that regular medical care will be available at the college’s clinic, which may be free or which may treat at a minimum charge, making the emergency care under your HMO adequate.
On the other hand, your family may be enrolled with a preferred provider health care organization (PPO). This plan reimburses you at a higher rate when you use participating medical providers. In this case you need to check the providers in your student’s college’s area to make sure participating providers exist there. Online assistance will allow you to check out the list of national and regional providers. It might even be worth your switching from an HMO plan for your family to a PPO plan, at least while you have college students.
The last alternative is to buy an individual plan. Such a plan might be best if your student will need health care which is not covered by the college’s clinic. Although the cost of this plan varies with coverage levels and other factors, the average cost is $1,000/year for such a policy. Be sure to shop around for affordable Student Health Insurance. It’s recommended the policy covers up to at least $100,000; high costs of hospitalization today make $20,000 to $50,000 too low to be effective. Be careful to read through the exclusions. Some policies will exclude coverage for risky behavior or injuries incurred while under the influence of alcohol, which may not be the wisest kind of coverage for a college student.
Tip! If your student is planning to participate in a study abroad program, it is important that he/she is covered with a short term travel insurance plan.
These are some things to think about before you decide on a health coverage plan. Whichever plan you choose, make sure your student takes the insurance card to school, even if it’s in your name.