Health Insurance: Worth it for College Students?

9 February 2012

Preparing for college is an exciting and daunting task for the new college student and his or her family.

In the midst of planning for moving to a new environment, deciding whether or not to live on or off campus and planning a course schedule, usually making decisions about student health insurance is forgotten or put on the back burner. However, planning for healthcare an essential component in planning for college. Approximately twenty percent of college students who are in good health often make the mistake of forgoing health insurance because they feel that the cost of insurance is too high, and since they do not regularly need medical care, they feel that the cost is not worth it. However, nothing could be further from the truth, as many of those students discover. All it takes is one catastrophic and unexpected medical emergency like a car accident or an unexpected surgery such as an appendectomy to suddenly realize the value of insurance, and at that point it is often too late to purchase it.

While many people mistakenly believe that insurance is too costly for the average college student to afford, there are many plans that are affordable for college students. Most students are able to remain on their parents’ health insurance plans, and that is usually the best option for a college student looking for insurance. However, with so many people currently out of work, and with so many jobs not offering benefits such as health insurance, more and more college students are coming from families who do not have adequate health coverage, so the student has to seek out his or her own coverage. If you are unsure about which healthcare option is right for you, consult your doctor or someone with an MBA in healthcare.

Another option for students seeking affordable health insurance is to look into insurance plans offered by the college or university. Many colleges, especially large ones, have their own health insurance or healthcare options for students, and usually they are pretty affordable. However, some smaller colleges and universities contract with private insurance companies for coverage. In those instances, students are encouraged to closely look over the policy and make sure that it is appropriate for his or her needs and cost effective, as sometimes smaller colleges and universities are not as savvy as they should be in choosing a quality insurance vendor.

Finally, if a student does decide to purchase insurance on his or her own, there are a few factors to take into consideration. If the student has a pre-existing condition it could be prohibitively expensive or practically impossible until the health care reforms surrounding pre-existing conditions become law in 2014. However, if the student is in good health and rarely needs medical care, it is likely that there are many available policies with low rates if the student is willing to accept a high deductible. These insurance plans are sometimes known as catastrophic health insurance plans and are popular among the younger, healthy college-aged demographic. The downside to these insurance plans is that routine or preventative medical care is often not covered, or if it is covered the out-of-pocket expenses can be high.

College is expensive enough without having to pay for unnecessary medical expenses. While insurance may on the surface appear to be another expense that may never be worth the cost. Forgoing coverage is a gamble that is not worth the risk.

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