College health insurance plans have had a good run. They’ve created controversy, provided students with bare minimum coverage and then left students high and dry shortly after graduation. But now, many college plans will not be returning this semester.
What are the reasons for the college health plan dropout?
There are a few different reasons why college plans are leaving the market:
- Caps on coverage will be phased out by 2014. As of right now, college plans can set a limit on the dollar amount they will cover for each student – say up to $30,000. Any necessary health care costs after that will fall on the student’s shoulders. Without the ability to impose these caps on coverage, colleges and universities would be obligated to spend an infinite amount on each student.
- Plans must now provide certain benefits. Catholic colleges are dropping health plans because the Obama administration will require all health plans to provide birth control without a copayment or charge to the consumer. Note: Many confuse this with free birth control but there is no “free” in health care.
The bottom line is this: college plans are leaving the market is due to a sharp increase in premiums from health care reform requirements.
Sure, college health plans have been a good option for some – especially since they typically cover pre-existing conditions. However, there are some fortunate things about college plans fading away:
For those who are unhealthy, this coverage was a complete wash and didn’t financially protect them from expensive medical services.
Also, there are better coverage options for students. Students can now stay on their parents’ health insurance plan until they turn 26. Individual health insurance coverage for students can be an affordable option as well.
How can students prepare for health insurance in the fall?
For those going to school this fall follow these steps to get health insurance coverage:
1. See if your college requires you to have health insurance.
2. Does the college provide health plans? If so, inquire into the costs.
3. See if you can stay on your parent’s health plan until you turn 26.
4. Check out individual health insurance rates.
5. Compare your three different options (college plan, individual or parent’s plan).
6. Pick a course of action and apply for coverage.
7. If the school requires you to have health insurance, provide proof of coverage as soon as you have it. Some schools will charge you for their plan if you don’t provide proof of coverage.