Health Insurance for college students with no income

Health Insurance for college students with no income

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When it comes to health insurance for college students with no income and recent graduates, there are plenty of options, each consists of a plan with costs and benefits that you can select based on your unique situation and needs. 

There are many student health insurance options available. In this article, you will learn about how to get health insurance as a student as well as the following coverage options.

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    When you head to college, whether you’re a freshman starting your education or a graduate student continuing yours, there’s a lot to consider. In addition to declaring a major and paying tuition, there are other grownup details like health insurance.

    Fortunately, there are a number of options available to students, whether they are attending school part- or full-time, are over or under age 26, or work while attending school or have no income. The best health insurance for college students with no income is the one that meets their financial situation and healthcare needs.

    How to get health insurance for college students with no income

    Before we explore health insurance options for students, here is a brief overview of the process for selecting and enrolling in coverage. 

    • Assess your personal healthcare needs: Consider your health history and how often you need medical care in a typical year. Do you have pre-existing conditions that require regular trips to the doctor? Are you taking any prescription medications? Do you participate in activities that put you at risk for injury?
    • Determine your budget: What can you afford to spend on your monthly premium? What can you afford to spend out of pocket for healthcare (e.g., toward your deductible, coinsurance, copayment, stay-covered expenses)? Do you have a way to pay for unexpected medical care?
    • Gather quotes for different plans: As you narrow your college healthcare coverage options, you should begin to gather quotes for coverage; you’ll need to provide information such as your birth date and ZIP code. When you look at your health insurance quotes, make note of monthly premium rates, but also remember to look at other costs such as the plan’s annual deductible, copayment amounts and coinsurance percentages.
    • Compare your options: In addition to cost, look at details such as plan networks (do networks apply or not; if so, are your preferred healthcare providers in-network and do you attend college within the plan network), what types of medical expenses are included and excluded, prescription drug coverage and how benefits are paid (lump-sum to you or a percentage to the provider).
    • Apply for coverage: These days, you can typically do so online and often within a few minutes. Some healthcare policies are guaranteed issue (e.g., major medical). Others involve underwriting or a quick health questionnaire before a decision is made (e.g., short term medical).

    Health insurance options for college students

    Whether you are a parent trying to help your child secure health benefits or you are a young adult making these decisions on your own (maybe for the first time), here are some common health insurance options for students over and under 26.

    A parent’s health insurance plan

    If you are a college student under 26 and have access to health insurance through your parents, this may be the first option you’ll want to consider because it can be easy and cost-effective. (Of course, you and your parents plan will have to sort out who pays the premium.)

    The Affordable Care Act requires health insurance companies to allow adult children to remain on a parent’s major medical health insurance policy through their 26th birthday. This applies to both individual and job-based (i.e., group) health insurance plans.

    Young adults are eligible for basic insurance coverage whether or not you are married, have access to other health insurance (e.g., through a job or your spouse), live with your parents, or are claimed as a dependent on a parent’s tax return.

    What’s included? Because major medical insurance must fulfill all ACA marketplace requirements, it includes the 10 essential health benefits and no-cost preventive care services as mandated by law. Major medical insurance is a guaranteed issue, which means you cannot be denied coverage due to pre-existing conditions or your health history.

    Who might consider this option?

    • Full-time students under the age of 26
    • Part-time students under the age of 26
    • Students go to school in the same state in which their parents reside.
    • Students who want comprehensive, ACA-qualified health insurance
    • Students with pre-existing health conditions
    • Students who take prescription drugs or require ongoing medical care would not find a catastrophic health insurance plan or alternative basic insurance coverage such as short term health insurance feasible.

    How to get this basic insurance coverage

    Major medical insurance may be available through your parent’s employer and employer sponsored health insurance (i.e., a group plan). Otherwise, it is available through your parent’s individual major medical plan purchased, which may be purchased through HealthCare.gov or state-based health insurance exchange as well as in the private health insurance marketplace subsidy. You can only enroll during the annual open enrollment period unless you become eligible for a special enrollment period due to a qualifying life event.

    Student health insurance plans

    Most colleges and universities offer student health insurance plans to their students. In most cases, these plans are considered minimum essential basic insurance coverage, and if they are fully insured plans (whereas the plan available through your school is provided by a health insurance company) they will cover the 10 essential health benefits.

    Whether or not student health plans and international coverage are available to part-time students or international students depends on the school.  Colleges and universities develop their own eligibility requirements for student health plans. 

    What’s included? Fully insured student health insurance  plans should include mandatory Affordable Care Act benefits (e.g., essential health benefits, prescription drug benefits, and certain preventive care  services at no additional cost, among others). A self-insured plan may include different benefits; states regulate self-insured student health plans.

    Who might consider this option?

    • College students without access to a parent’s health insurance plan
    • Many college students attend school outside their parent’s health insurance provider network.
    • Many college Students under and over 26 qualify for their school’s student health plans insurance and find that it meets their needs.

    How to get this coverage: Inquire with your college or university to see if it offers ACA-compliant student health insurance coverage and when they hold enrollment.

    Catastrophic health insurance plan

    If you’re under 30 or qualify for a hardship exemption you can buy a high-deductible health insurance policy known as Catastrophic health insurance plan. Catastrophic plans tend to have lower monthly premiums and higher deductibles, which can make them attractive and potentially more affordable health insurance for college students who have to buy their own health insurance.

    If you’re insured by a Catastrophic health insurance plan, you’ll typically pay for all medical expenses up to your deductible amount. For this reason, it is important to keep in mind that if you enroll in a Catastrophic health insurance plan and incur medical bills due to illnesses, injuries, or other healthcare needs, you could be on the hook for thousands of dollars before your plan benefits kick in.

    What’s included?

    • 10 essential health benefits, as defined by the ACA marketplace.
    • Certain preventive services at no additional cost (your deductible does not apply)
    • 3 primary care visits per year (your deductible does not apply)

    Who might consider this option?

    • Students under 30
    • Anyone over 30 with a hardship exemption
    • Full-time students
    • Part-time students
    • Students without access to a parent’s health insurance plan
    • Students attending school outside their parent’s health insurance provider network.
    • Students willing to face a high deductible (and potentially pay more out of pocket for healthcare) in exchange for a lower monthly premium.

    How to get this health coverage: You can purchase a catastrophic health insurance plan through HealthCare.gov or a state-based exchange. You can only enroll during the annual open enrollment period (generally November through December) unless you become eligible for a special enrollment period due to a qualifying life event.

    Medicaid

    Medicaid is a program that provides free best health insurance and low incomes health insurance coverage option to those who qualify based on income and other criteria. It is funded by state and federal governments. Medicaid or  the free student health insurance for college students is available to those who qualify based on their state’s eligibility criteria. What’s included? Under federal law, Medicaid must provide certain mandatory benefits such as inpatient and outpatient hospital services, physician services, laboratory and X-ray services and home health services. States determine optional benefits such as prescription drug cards, case management, physical therapy and occupational therapy. Visit Medicaid.gov for a list of mandatory and optional benefits.

    Who might consider this option?

    • Students under and over 26
    • Full-time and part-time students
    • Students without access to a parent’s health insurance plan
    • Students whose parental health insurance plan is too expensive.
    • Students with no income
    • Students with incomes up to 138% of the Federal poverty level  who are residents of a state that expanded Medicaid.
    • Students who live in a state that didn’t expand Medicaid and qualify based on other criteria; visit Medicaid.gov to find your state’s overview

    Quick glance at Medicaid

    •  While you cannot be denied based on health history or pre-existing conditions, you must meet your state’s eligibility guidelines.
    • Medicaid premiums are of  low incomes or no-cost depending on your eligibility. premium tax credits and cost-sharing subsidies do not apply.

    Individual health insurance plan coverage

    If you are a college student who doesn’t have access to major medical insurance through your parents insurance or through your own coverage (insurance) from your own job, you may want to consider individual major medical insurance. Individual health insurance plans are ACA compliant health insurance and include all benefits and protections required under the law (e.g., 10 essential health benefits, no-cost preventive care services, guaranteed issue).

    This can be an attractive option to college students looking for affordable coverage for health insurance because subsidies that lower monthly premium payments are available to those who qualify based on income and purchase plans through HealthCare.gov or a state-based exchange.

    Who might consider this option?

    • Students under 26 without access to a parent’s health plan
    • Students over 26 without access to an employer’s health plan
    • Full-time or part-time students
    • Students attending school outside their parent’s health insurance provider network
    • Students who want comprehensive, ACA-qualified health insurance
    • Students with pre-existing health conditions
    • Students who take prescription drugs or require ongoing medical care and would not find a catastrophic plan or alternative health coverage such as short term health insurance feasible.
    • Students who qualify for subsidies and want to lower premium costs.
    • Students who don’t qualify for Medicaid.

    How to get this health coverage: You can buy individual own coverage in major medical insurance through the state-based and federally facilitated exchanges established under the Affordable Care Act as well as in the private marketplace subsidy through a health insurance producer (i.e., agent or broker), directly from a health insurance carrier, or from a website that offers multiple plan options.

    Short term health insurance

    Health Insurance for college students with no income

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    Short term medical insurance provides temporary health coverage for both students and others, and can be quickly obtained online. Short term medical services is not ACA-compliant, does not cover essential health benefits and is not a guaranteed issue. Short term health insurance includes a range of benefits to help you pay for medical services events (e.g., unexpected injuries and illnesses).

    However, they don’t typically cover preventive care and  pre-existing conditions. You could be denied coverage based on your health history; in which case you may want to consider major medical insurance.

    Get a Short Term Health Insurance Quote

    It’s important to keep in mind that the limited nature of short term health insurance policies is what typically makes their premiums lower than more comprehensive health coverage. Premiums will vary based on the benefits selected; for example, if you select more benefits, your monthly premium will be higher while fewer benefits may result in a lower monthly premium.

    As such, short term plans can provide relatively affordable health insurance for college students who need temporary coverage, don’t qualify for an ACA subsidy, and need benefits for worst-case scenarios. However, you’ll want to gather a variety of quotes for short term and major medical plans to determine which options are truly right for you as a college student.

    Who might consider this option?

    • Students who need temporary coverage over summer break, J-term, or another time of year
    • Recent college grads in between major medical plans
    • Recent college grads in an employer waiting period.
    • Students attending school outside their parent’s health insurance provider network.
    • Students under 26 without access to a parent’s plan
    • Students over 26 without access to an employer’s plan
    • Full- or part-time students
    • Students who don’t qualify for Medicaid.
    • Students who need quick access to next-day health insurance coverage (if they qualify)

    How to get this health coverage: You can get a short term insurance quote, compare plan options, and apply for coverage online or through a health insurance agent.

    Free health insurance 

    If you want a free health insurance plan,  you have a few cost effective option plans. Unemployed and low income earners can get medical insurance through the health insurance marketplace subsidies. If you don’t meet the criteria for a Marketplace plan, you can also consider a short-term health insurance plan or apply for Medicaid. Health Insurance marketplace subsidies are sold through a federal or state website where you can compare plans and purchase coverage.

    Marketplace subsidies tend to be an easy and affordable way for some individuals and families to qualify for premium tax credits that reduce their premiums. Another advantage of the Health Insurance Marketplace is that insurers can’t deny you for not having good health or pre-existing health conditions.

    How it works

    Health insurance covers the whole or a part of the risk of a person incurring medical expenses. As with other types of insurance, risk is shared among many individuals. By estimating the overall risk of health risk and health system expenses over the risk pool, an insurer can develop a routine finance structure, such as a monthly premium or payroll tax, to provide the money to pay for the health care benefits specified in the insurance agreement.