6 health insurance options for college students

Health Care 101 for college students

Each year, college students face a critical test that they probably don't hear about in any classroom: having the right health insurance to cover the costs of ailments and emergencies that may arise while they're in school.

Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, the health reform legislation more often known by the moniker "Obamacare," students now have at least a half-dozen health care choices.

"Five years ago, a student had very few options," says Jenny Haubenreiser, immediate past president of the American College Health Association. "Now, they have many options."

Poor health may be the last thing on the minds of young, vibrant college students. But it pays to think about illness before it happens.

"We cannot overestimate the importance of insuring the young adult population," says Haubenreiser, who is now the director of health promotion at Montana State University. "There's this idea they are young and invincible. But they need care just like anyone else."

Following are six ways college students can answer the question: What do I do about health insurance?

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Computer? Check. Mini-fridge? Check. Here's one more that should be high on the list of college-student essentials: health insurance.

Students have several options for taking care of emergencies and other health needs while they're in school. Many colleges offer their own health plans, and the costs are grouped with other student expenses such as tuition, so student loans can assist with the premiums.

Or, thanks to the Affordable Care Act, a college kid could just stay covered on mom or dad's health insurance until the age of 26. But the family must check to see if the insurance company's network includes doctors near campus.

The health care law also makes it possible for students to buy their own subsidized policy, or get a lower-cost, high-deductible "catastrophic" plan, or even qualify for Medicaid in states that are expanding the program.



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