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Health Insurance for College Students

As your child prepares to head off to college for the first time, probably the last thing on his or her mind (and yours) is health insurance. But getting sick or injured away from home can be an unpleasant experience--more so if your child does not understand his or her health care options. There are basically two options to insure your child's health while at college: your family health plan, and a health plan provided through your child's college.

Your own family health plan
Your own family medical plan probably covers your children until they reach 20 to 24 years of age, regardless of whether they live at home. If you have a traditional indemnity plan, your child should be able to see any doctor near campus, and you should receive some level of reimbursement. It becomes more complicated when you have an HMO plan and your child's college is not close by. Most parents will fall into this category. In this situation, visiting your child's primary care doctor or another approved provider can be difficult, if not impossible.

If your child loses coverage under your family's employer-sponsored health plan because he or she no longer fits the definition of "dependent child," the child may be eligible for coverage under COBRA. This most often occurs because the child reaches the age of majority, but it may also be the result of emancipation. COBRA coverage continues for up to 36 months after a qualifying event.

The college health plan
The other option is purchasing health insurance coverage through your child's college. Many colleges now-a-days offer health insurance coverage for students.   These health plans, though perhaps not as comprehensive as a policy out in the "real world," are usually enough to get by on, even if your child becomes critically ill or has a serious accident.

The cost and the level of coverage can vary greatly from one school to the next. One reason is that plans are designed specifically for each individual college. Often, the health services that are available on campus and/or in the community will determine what the college is able to offer. In addition, state laws may play a significant role in the cost and level of coverage offered to students.

Questions to answer about your college health plan
Because college plans can differ widely in their coverage, find out the answer to each of the following questions before you sign your child up for the plan:

  • Is the plan an HMO, or can my child use any health provider?
  • What services are offered free or low-cost in the campus health center?
  • Is the campus health center open 24 hours? How is it staffed?
  • Are emergency room visits covered in all situations or only in specific situations?
  • Does the plan cover my child when he or she is on vacation (i.e. spring break)?
  • Does the plan cover my child during the summer if classes are not taken then?
  • Are hospitals in the college area accessible and utilized?
  • Does the plan include mental health treatment?
  • What preexisting conditions are excluded?

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Please Note: The information contained in this Web site is provided solely as a source of general information and resource. It is a not a statement of contract and coverage may not apply in all areas or circumstances. For a complete description of coverages, always read the insurance policy, including all endorsements
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Copyright © 2005 Oleg Skurskiy Authorized Independent Agent, CA License 0E50389