Health Plans for College Students

While our children are young and healthy, we don't think too much about health insurance unless something goes wrong. And then, they are covered under our plans as parents, right?

But what about when they head off to college?

The good news is that most health plans that a parent has through the workplace will continue to allow adult children to be covered, up until they are between 20 and 24 years of age. However, you may actually be able to save money by switching your child to a college plan. College health plans at some schools are subsidized by tuition. This can be a bonus for parents helping children through school. And if you don't have any health insurance for your child, such a college plan could be a good solution.

Don't be fooled. College health plans are not free (even if they are less expensive) and the benefit's will vary. You'll have to check over the plan with your college-age child and decide if such a plan is sufficient. Keep in mind that college plans may limit preventative care, but colleges often have free health care services right on campus. In many cases, there is no charge for office visit's here, although there may be costs associated with lab work, physical therapy, x-rays, prescriptions and other procedures.

Typically, a college health plan will cover 100% of covered services when the student gets them at the health center. This can be a great advantage. However, be prepared for coverage to drop off campus. Also be prepared for state laws to affect the kinds of coverage offered to students. As a result, one child may have good coverage through their college, while another child does not.

As with anyone trying to get health insurance, pre-existing conditions can be a problem. Before you sign up for a college plan, be sure you know whether the plan is a blanket disability product that won't cover treatment for your child's asthma, allergies or any other pre-existing condition. In the case when this happens, keeping your child's coverage on your own plan for as long as possible could be a much better option.

In some cases, it may make sense to buy the colleges health plan and keep your child on your own health plan. Why? There can be problems obtaining referrals across states. If your child is in another state, their college plan will give them local referrals. When they are home on breaks or during summer vacation, your health plan will guarantee them referrals local to you.

Remember, although your child is healthy and has no medical conditions, it doesn't make sense to have them go to college without health insurance. The biggest risk to a college student is injury. A serious injury could have serious financial implications, both for the child and the parent.

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