Young people are by far the least insured population in the US. Here are just a few tips for college students and specifically for pregnant and parenting students trying to navigate the wild world of health insurance.
Staying on your parents’ plan: Until you are 26 years old, you are eligible to stay on your parents’ plan. If you are going to college in a different state, look into whether your parents’ insurance will have in-network providers in that state.
- On your parents’ plan you will have the chance to stay with familiar doctors. Of course, your parents will pay the bill, so they will be seeing what services you are using if privacy is a concern and your plan is left vulnerable if your parents can no longer pay for it.
Enrolling in a Student Health Insurance Plan (SHIP): Student plans are most often either set up through an exterior insurance company or set up by the school’s own self-insurance.
- Advantages of this option may include the chance to use financial aid to pay for insurance, and the accessibility of medical services on campus. The cost may be higher than similar coverage found independently and tax credits may not be applicable. Plans may also depend on full-time student status. If the school plan is self-insured, it may not cover all the services required by the Affordable Care Act.
Individual Coverage through ACA marketplace: If you are over 26, you are eligible to enroll in a plan through the ACA marketplace.
- This means more options for fitting your needs and your budget, and coverage is not dependent on your student status. If you are within 100-400% of the Federal Poverty Level you may be able to apply tax credits to your insurance costs.
- Medicaid is an optional state program. Depending on your state, you may have access to low-cost coverage.
- Insurance companies cannot refuse you or charge you more because you are pregnant. The Affordable Care Act requires plans to cover much of the pre-birth testing, supplements, STD testing, labor and delivery costs, and maternity and newborn care.
- Usually, you must enroll in coverage during the open enrollment period, but giving birth is a life event that qualifies you for an exception. Within 60 days of the birthday, you may choose to enroll your family in a different plan or change the plan you have. It is recommended that you add the baby to your plan within 30 days.
- If you cannot find affordable coverage for your child and are within the income qualifications, you will be eligible for the Child’s Health Insurance Plan. This offers low-cost coverage of immunizations, doctor/dental care, hospital visits, prescriptions, etc.
It is overwhelming, but doing a little extra research to find the right plan will pay off in the long run. Your future self (and your family) will thank you.