Best Health Insurance for College Students

Health insurance is the last thing on your mind while you’re young and in school. However, as a college student, it’s critical to get coverage in case of an emergency so that you don’t end up with even more debt. Young adults have the greatest incidence of uninsured people of any age group; in fact, around 30% of young adults do not have health insurance, putting them at risk if they have medical expenditures.

The average cost of repairing a broken limb is $7,500, while a three-day hospital stay costs a whopping $30,000. You’ll have to foot the entire amount if you don’t have health insurance. When you’re at college, you have several options for health insurance, including coverage via your parents’ plan or through insurance provided by your school.

You can seek coverage on your own if you don’t have access to such types of plans. We looked at 17 health insurance options and businesses and ranked them based on plan pricing, coverage options, and provider network to help you pick the best insurance plan for your requirements. These are the top insurance plans for college students that we’ve found.

What Is Health Insurance for Students?

You pay a corporation a monthly sum—your premium—for health insurance. In exchange, the firm promises to pay for a portion of your medical expenses, such as doctor visits, prescription drugs, and hospital stays. A widespread misconception is that because college students are young and generally healthy, they do not require health insurance.

However, one out of every six young adults has a chronic health issue, and nearly half of them have trouble paying their medical expenditures. Obtaining health insurance is an important financial safety.

The 5 Best Health Insurance for College Students in 2022

1. Cigna

Because of its coverage options and low cost, Cigna is your best option for health insurance as a college student. Cigna has affordable premiums and, of course, ACA financial aid is available. Pre-existing conditions are always covered by Cigna plans purchased through its website or Healthcare.gov, and as a college student, you may be eligible for subsidies that make insurance considerably more inexpensive.

You probably don’t have much money as a student. If that’s the case, you may be eligible for premium subsidies to help you afford your plan. Cigna’s plans are organized into levels, with bronze to platinum insurance available. Bronze plans are the most economical, whereas platinum plans offer higher monthly premiums but lower deductibles.

Cigna’s plans all offer $0 preventative care, so you won’t have to pay extra for an annual exam, flu vaccine, or health screenings. Cigna also provides low-cost virtual care, which allows you to communicate with a board-certified doctor over the phone or via video chat. Because Cigna’s comprehensive coverage provides more benefits for less money, it is our overall favorite. 

Some students may be eligible for Cigna subsidies, but not all college students will. Subsidies are calculated based on your family’s income. If your parents earn too much money and you’re a dependent, you may not be eligible for a subsidy and may have to pay the whole monthly premium.

Pros

  • Comprehensive coverage options
  • Some students may qualify for premium subsidies
  • Free preventative care and low-cost virtual care
Cons

  • Subsidies may not be available if you’re a dependent
  • You may need to find a new healthcare provider

2. Aetna

If you’re a low-income student, Aetna’s catastrophic insurance policy is our top recommendation for health insurance. You can get low-cost coverage against major emergencies with Aetna’s catastrophic insurance. If you’re a college student on a shoestring budget, Aetna’s catastrophic insurance can be a good fit. The federal Health Insurance Marketplace is where catastrophic coverage can be purchased.

They feature lower monthly payments than typical insurance policies, which makes them attractive to low-income students. In the insurance industry, Aetna has a solid reputation. Aetna receives an A (Excellent) rating from AM Best. Aetna’s catastrophic plans include some preventative services, such as immunizations and screenings, as well as three primary care physician visits each year.

Catastrophic plans have large deductibles ($8,550 in 2021), but they cover serious situations that might cost thousands of dollars, such as sickness or injuries that necessitate hospitalization. In 2022, Aetna will resume marketing ACA plans, with deductibles likely to be higher than in 2021.

Because catastrophic plans, unlike other insurance plans purchased via the Health Insurance Marketplace, are not eligible for the premium tax credit rebate, you will be responsible for paying your monthly payments in full.

Pros

  • Relatively low premiums
  • Covers some preventative services at no cost
  • Financial protection for medical emergencies
Cons

  • High monthly deductibles
  • Not available in all states

3. Everest

Consider Everest Insurance if you need a short-term insurance policy. You’re not limited to a fixed provider network with Everest, and wellness benefits cover preventative care. For college students, short-term insurance policies might be a cost-effective alternative to standard health insurance. You can receive temporary coverage for less than the cost of a private insurance plan with a short-term policy.

Everest provides customized short-term insurance policies, making it the best alternative for short-term coverage. You can select a deductible between $1,000 and $10,000, as well as a copay between $40 and $50, allowing you to tailor your premium to fit your budget. You can also choose your own maximum coverage level. You can pick a maximum of $250,000 to $1.5 million, depending on your needs.

Everest’s short-term strategies, on the other hand, have some disadvantages. Prescription drug coverage, vision care, and dental treatments are not included. Your insurer will not cover your therapies if you have a pre-existing condition. Everest’s plans are suitable for college students who are in good health and do not have continuous medical needs because of these limitations.

Pros

  • Low copay and coinsurance options
  • Free-look period applies
  • Multiple coverage period maximums available
Cons

  • Does not include prescription drug coverage
  • Pre-existing conditions are not covered
  • Not available in all states

4. IMG

Because of its various plan options, large maximum limits, and the flexibility to choose a low deductible, IMG is our top recommendation for international students. It also provides coverage for maternity and mental health. If you’re an international student studying in the United States, it’s critical to have good health insurance.

Medical care can be extremely expensive if you fall ill or are involved in an accident. IMG has a variety of insurance policies for international students that you can personalize to match your specific needs, all of which are underwritten by the Sirius International Insurance Corporation.

Prescription medicine coverage is also included in its plans, allowing you to obtain vital drugs while in the United States. For an extra fee, IMG allows you to add other coverage choices and riders to your policy. Theft or loss of your bags, jewelry, or personal papers is covered by add-on coverage. It also protects you from personal liability.

Additional coverages may be available depending on the policy type, location, and other circumstances. You’ll be covered if you participate in dangerous sports like bobsledding, parachuting, whitewater kayaking, or windsurfing if you add the adventure sports rider to your policy. You can set a maximum limit ranging from $50,000 to $8 million, depending on the plan you choose. However, the J1 and J2 visas both need a minimum of $100,000 in insurance coverage.

Pros

  • Plans have maximum limits as high as $8 million
  • Multiple add-ons and riders are available
  • Includes prescription drug coverage
Cons

  • Waiting periods for pre-existing conditions may apply
  • Not ranked by J.D. Power
  • Lower-tier options do not comply with J1 and J2 visa requirements

5. School-Offered Insurance

For students who desire ease, cost, and don’t want to be overwhelmed by options, we recommend school-sponsored insurance policies. Insurance plans supplied by schools often cost between $1,500 and $2,500 per year. That’s a lot less than the average annual cost for non-school coverage for an individual. The average yearly premium for conventional employer-based coverage is $5,969, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.

Premiums for school insurance plans are usually included in your tuition and fees, so you can pay for them with financial help. When you have a school-provided plan, you can utilize your coverage at on-campus student health clinics, which is useful when you’re sick. School plans, on the other hand, can have a wide range of coverage options and networks. You might not be able to personalize your plan, and you might not be able to see your current doctors because they aren’t in-network.

In order to keep your coverage, you may need to remain a full-time student. You’ll need to obtain other insurance if you need to take a vacation from school or decide to drop to half-time status. Despite their disadvantages, school-sponsored insurance plans are a viable alternative for students searching for a low-cost option with a simple signup process. They take away the need to search around and assure that you are covered while you are in school.

Pros

  • You can use financial aid to pay your premiums
  • Coverage can be used at on-campus health centers
  • Plans are often cheaper than outside policies
Cons

  • Coverage options may be limited
  • You may have to be a full-time student to qualify
  • You may not be able to keep your current healthcare providers

Can College Students Use Their Parents’ Health Insurance?

College students and young people can stay on their parent’s health insurance policies until they are 26 under the Affordable Care Act. Even if you are married, live apart from your parents, or are financially independent, you can join or stay on your parents’ plan.

Getting coverage through your parents’ plan can be advantageous because you can keep your current healthcare providers, you may have access to more comprehensive coverage than you would otherwise have, and adding a family member to an existing policy may be less expensive than purchasing individual coverage. During the yearly Open Enrollment period, you can be added to your parent’s insurance, or you may be eligible for Special Enrollment if you lose your current healthcare coverage.

How Much Does Health Insurance for College Students Cost?

The cost of health insurance as a college student is determined by your income, state, and status as a student. For example, Medicaid-eligible low-income children may pay $0 per month for coverage, whereas school-provided insurance normally costs between $1,500 and $2,500 per year. 8 Your rates will be determined by your tier and deductible if you choose a plan through the Health Insurance Marketplace. If your income meets specific criteria, you may be eligible for subsidies that lower your costs.

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