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Health Insurance For College Students: Take Note Of These Tips

Noel Carrillo was nervous this summer about his lack of health insurance.

“I was a little bit scared because things happen all the time,” said the 26-year-old Westwood resident.

But now that he’s headed to medical school at UCLA[1], help has arrived. Like millions of other students across the nation, he’s covered by a university health plan.

Insurance coverage for young adults has been in the news as provisions of the Affordable Care Act[2] have begun to take effect, including the option of young adults’ remaining on the parents’ policies until age 26. In addition, there are federal regulations taking effect next year requiring nearly all Americans to have health insurance.

Though health insurance is often last on students’ lists of things to think about, experts say they and their parents need to carefully consider a variety of options to make sure they’ve got the best coverage for their circumstances and their wallets.

Student health plans

As many as 1.5 million undergraduate and graduate students are enrolled in a health insurance plan offered through a college or university, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services[3]. Many schools require students to either buy the health insurance policy they offer or show proof of other coverage.

The Affordable Care Act provides new advantages for students covered by their school’s health insurance plan. Among them is the requirement that the plans provide preventive health services and access to contraception at no additional cost.

Overall, the greatest benefit of the law “is free preventive services,” says Tamika Butler, the California director of Washington-based Young Invincibles, a national organization that seeks to represent the interests of 18- to 34-year-olds. “Even with a college plan, students sometimes can’t afford to go to the doctor.”

Many student health plans aren’t required to comply with some of the law’s protections, including one that eliminates caps on annual or lifetime benefits. These caps have been a common cause of financial hardship when students suffer injuries or illnesses.

Regardless, student health plans can be a cost-effective option for good coverage, experts say. “The other advantage of a student plan is you can fold it into your financial aid package so you don’t have to put cash on the barrel,” says Jenny Haubenreiser, immediate past president for the American College Health Assn.

Care on campus

Whether or not you buy into your school’s health insurance plan, you may be required to pay a fee to help support an on-campus health clinic.

Although the fees vary, Haubenreiser says it’s safe to assume a charge of $100 to $200 per semester. This is not a health insurance policy, but the clinics are a good source of primary care for students.

It’s important to understand, however, that this typically doesn’t cover hospital stays. “Most student health service is only for outpatient care,” says Martin Rosen, co-founder and executive vice president of Health Advocate, a patient advocacy organization based in Plymouth Meeting, Pa.

Stay on Mom’s or Dad’s plan

Under the health law, most young adults can now stay on their parents’ insurance plan until age 26.

This part of the law has helped about 3.4 million young adults nationwide gain insurance coverage. In some cases, it costs nothing to add adult children to a policy. Other plans charge at most $150 a month, which can still be cost-effective, says Mike Thompson at consulting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers[4]’ human resources services.

Pay careful attention if the student attends school out of state. Many health plans require you to use a network of healthcare providers within the geographic area in which the policy is issued.

If the plan is a preferred provider organization, typically you can see out-of-network doctors, although costs will be higher if you do. But experts say this can work if a healthy student visits the doctor only when home on break, as long as there is a health clinic on campus that can meet the student’s primary care needs.

References

  1. ^ University of California, Los Angeles (www.latimes.com)
  2. ^ Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (www.latimes.com)
  3. ^ U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (www.latimes.com)
  4. ^ PricewaterhouseCoopers (www.latimes.com)

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Comments

  1. Reply

    Health Diet Tips To Keep Myself Skinny And Healthy? I am 115lbs and I am 13. I was wondering if anyone had any health tips to keep myself healthy.

    I was looking into this diet where I would start with eating protein and gradually work my way into eating my fruits and vegetables. Does anyone know what this diet is called?

    (Please, No comments with additude. Any other comments will be appreciated. Thanks so much!)
    Also, I don’t want to be on a diet plan (Such as Weight Watchers). Thanks!

    View Comment
      • HealthNut
      • August 13, 2013
      Reply

      Water

      View Comment
    • Hg
    • August 13, 2013
    Reply

    Do These Health Tips Actually Work? 1 apple / day – no doctor
    1 lemon / day – no fat
    1 cup of milk / day – no bone problems
    3 ltrs water / day – no diseases…

    Also what are some losing weight health tips?

    View Comment
      • HealthNut
      • August 13, 2013
      Reply

      No, these health ‘tips’ are actually myths. It’s all very healthy to do that, but no.

      To lose weight, all you can really do is exercise more and eat healthy and try to keep your calories at around 1600 a day. It’s good to drink homemade lemonade that tastes pretty sour and not sweetened very much- it’s good for your metabolism. Tea is good, fruits and vegetables are good. It’s a great time to get active because it’s summer and you’ll sweat more, which is awesome for your body to flush out toxins and such. I like making fruit smoothies and adding spinach or kale (you can’t taste it and it’s so good for your body- not to mention filling). When you snack during the day, only snack on ‘raw’ foods like fruits and vegetables, or maybe a few almonds.

      Good luck!

      View Comment
  2. Reply

    Anyone Have Some Good Tips For A College Student Who Wants To Lose About 35 Pounds? Basically Im pretty lethargic due to the studying….I do a fair bit of walking and I dont eat fast food more than a coupla times a month, but I seem to keep gaining weight. Basically I need some health tips or some way of beginning to get rid of the buddha belly.

    View Comment
      • HealthNut
      • August 13, 2013
      Reply

      As a fellow student, I understand your struggle. My butt feels constantly glued to a seat and I don’t have the time or attention for planning healthy meals. It’s tough but I manage to control my weight and even lose weight every now and then with some pretty easy tactics. Since you want to lose it, you’ll have to get serious. I would highly recommend cardio workouts. Depending on your fitness level and personal tastes you could try at home workouts like Tae Bo or you can hit the gym (in which case walking or jogging on the tredmill mixed with weights would be effective). Basically, make yourself workout even when you feel tired from studying or a long day. Next thing you know, you’ll look forward to the stress relief. Remember to watch what you eat and consider counting calories…you may be surprised how much you eat daily! Get sleep. Lack of sleep stresses the bod out and you may compensate with food. And you definitely will have less energy for workouts. GOOD LUCK!

      View Comment
  3. Reply

    I’m Trying To Loose Weight, What Are Some Health Tips? I’m making a modeling portfolio, and I know I need to be slimmer. What are some health tips, such as eating veggies, and colors to dress in the make you look slimmer? What is skinny for height 5’8″? I am Indian (India) & German and I have blue eyes.

    View Comment
      • HealthNut
      • August 13, 2013
      Reply

      Unfortunately there are no easy ways to permanently lose weight and most people who lose weight regain it all.

      A vegetarian or vegan diet for the rest of your life might perhaps be a good option as very few vegetarians or vegans are overweight.

      If you want a life changing permanent weight loss you need to follow a maintenance diet for the rest of your life after you reach your target weight with one of the many diets you can choose from.

      You can see further details in a web search for “how to lose weight and keep it off”.

      View Comment

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