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best health insurance for college students

In this article, we will discuss the best health insurance for college students and how to enroll to reap all the benefits. Health insurance is the last thing on your mind while you’re young and in school. However, as a college student, you must have emergency insurance to avoid getting stuck in debt. Young people have the highest percentage of uninsured persons among all age groups; About 30% of young people do not have health insurance, which puts them at risk if they incur medical expenses. The average cost of repairing a broken limb is $7,500, and a three-day hospital stay costs a whopping $XNUMX XNUMX. Without health insurance, you pay the full amount yourself.

Why You Need Health Insurance as a College Student

When you’re in college, you have several health insurance options, including insurance on your parent’s plan or insurance provided by the school. However, if you don’t have access to such plans, you can get coverage yourself. School insurance payments are often added to tuition fees and fees to use financial aid to cover insurance costs. If you have a plan provided by the school, you can use your coverage at on-campus student clinics, which is helpful when you’re sick.

However, school plans can vary greatly when it comes to coverage options and network networks. You may not be able to personalize your plan and may not be able to see existing healthcare providers if they are offline. To maintain your insurance coverage, you may need to maintain your full-time student status. You will need to purchase alternative insurance if you need to take time off from school or decide to switch to part-time. Despite their drawbacks, the insurance plans provided by the school are a viable alternative for students who are looking for a low-cost option with a simple enrollment procedure.

They eliminate the need to review and guarantee coverage while attending school. You pay a monthly payment to the business for health insurance, which is known as your premium. In return, the firm agrees to pay for a portion of your medical expenses, such as doctor visits, prescription drugs, or hospital stays. It’s a widespread misconception that college students don’t need health insurance because they’re young and generally healthy.

However, one in six young people has chronic health problems, and almost half of young people have difficulty paying for medical expenses. Obtaining health insurance is an important financial security. As a college student, you have the following insurance options:

  • Parental Insurance: You can join your parents’ health insurance plan if you are under the age of 26.
  • Coverage offered by the school: Many educational institutions provide insurance policies to new students.
  • Insurance through the health insurance market: On the Healthcare.gov website, you can register for an insurance plan. Depending on your income, you may be eligible for subsidies that make insurance coverage cheaper, or you may be able to purchase a low-cost insurance plan.
  • Federal health care system for the poor: You may be eligible for Medicaid, a government insurance program for low-income people, depending on your income and region. You can apply for Medicaid coverage through your state’s Medicaid agency.
  • Private Plans: You can also opt for a private insurance company’s insurance plan. These plans may or may not comply with ACA regulations, but they may cover serious accidents or illnesses.

Insurance coverage provided by the school typically costs between $1,500 and $2,500 per year. This is much less than the average annual contribution for a person not covered by school insurance. The Kaiser Family Foundation reports that the average annual premium for regular insurance coverage from an employer is $5,969 XNUMX. The insurance plans provided by the school are our top pick for students looking for simplicity, cost, and no choice.

To help you find the best insurance plan for your claims, we’ve compiled a list of health insurance alternatives taken from facts verified by reputable sites like Investopedia and the Verywell family and evaluated them based on plan cost, coverage options, and provider network. This is our top pick for the best college insurance policies.

NB: The information provided in this article applies only to students in the U.S., as you may have understood from the use of the word “college.” By students, we mean mostly local students, although many of these companies cater to international students.

Health Insurance Providers for College Students

1. Cigna

Due to its coverage options and low cost, Cigna is the best option for health insurance for college students. Cigna has competitive premiums, and of course, ACA financial aid is available. Cigna plans can be purchased on the website or on the Healthcare.gov website. They always include pre-existing medical conditions, and you may be eligible for subsidies that make insurance much cheaper for a college student. As a student, you most likely don’t have a lot of money. If so, you may be eligible for premium subsidies that can make your plan more affordable.

Cigna insurance is divided into levels from bronze to platinum. Bronze plans are the least expensive, whereas platinum policies offer lower deductibles but higher monthly installments. All Cigna plans come with $0 preventative maintenance, so you can get your annual screening, flu shots, and physical exams for free. Cigna also offers low-cost virtual assistance that allows you to communicate with a board-certified physician via phone or video chat. Cigna’s full coverage offers more benefits for less, making it our favorite.

While some students may be eligible for Cigna subsidies, not all college students are eligible. Your family’s income determines subsidies. If you are a dependent and your parents make too much money, you may not be eligible for the subsidy. When you get insurance from Cigna, you can choose between HMO plans, which require you to stay online, or PPO plans, which give you more flexibility. Depending on the plan you choose, you may need to change your healthcare provider. For example, if your current doctor is not part of the HMO plan, you will have to find a new one, otherwise your insurance will not cover your office visits.

Suppose you already have a health problem or need treatment regularly. In this case, Cigna insurance is the best coverage option, as you can qualify for significant discounts and receive free preventative and low-cost virtual assistance. It also has a great reputation, with AM Best giving it an A grade (excellent).

2. Etna

We recommend purchasing catastrophe insurance through Aetna if you are a low-income student. Aetna’s catastrophic plans provide low-cost coverage for major emergencies. Aetna’s catastrophe insurance can be a good choice if you’re a college student on a budget. Catastrophe insurance policies are available on the federal health insurance market. They have lower monthly payments than regular insurance policies, making them suitable for low-income students.

Aetna also has a solid reputation in the insurance market. Aetna receives an A grade (excellent) from AM Best. Aetna’s disastrous plans include some preventive measures, including immunization and screening, as well as three types of primary health care. Doctor visits every year at no extra charge. Catastrophic plans can have huge deductibles — $8,550 in 2021 — but they cover serious situations that can cost thousands of dollars, such as illness or injuries that require hospitalization. Aetna will resume providing ACA plans in 2022, with the deductible expected to be higher than in 2021.

Unlike other insurance plans purchased in the health insurance market, catastrophe plans are not subject to a tax credit rebate; Therefore, you have to pay your monthly premiums entirely on your own.

Aetna’s disastrous policies are not available in all states. You must be under the age of 30 or meet hardship exemption conditions to be eligible for the disaster plan. If you’re a low-income college student who doesn’t qualify for Medicaid or premium subsidies, Aetna’s disaster plan provides critical coverage at a low cost. Once your deductible is met, Aetna will pay 100 percent of the cost of most procedures, protecting you if you require expensive medical care.

3. Everest

Consider Everest Insurance if you need short-term insurance. Everest doesn’t limit you to a specific network of doctors, and wellness benefits cover preventative care. Short-term insurance coverage can be a cost-effective alternative to standard student health insurance. You can get temporary coverage for less than the cost of a private insurance plan with a short-term policy. Everest offers customizable short-term insurance policies, making it an ideal alternative for short-term insurance.

You can choose a deductible of $1,000 to $10,000 and a copay of $40 to $50,250, allowing you to tailor your premium to fit your budget. You can also set your own coverage limit. Depending on your requirements, you can set a limit between $000.1 XNUMX and $XNUMX million. However, there are a few problems with Everest’s short-term strategies. They do not cover prescription medications, eye care, or dental care. Your insurance company will not cover treatment if you already have a medical condition. Because of these limitations, Everest’s plans are best suited for college students who are in good health and don’t have recurring medical requirements.

Everest is not offered in all states; if you live where Everest doesn’t work, you’ll need to find another insurance company. AM Best has assigned Everest an A+ (Superior) rating, which indicates that the firm is financially stable and able to meet its contractual obligations. Because of its deductibles, copays, and coinsurance, as well as wellness and mental health features, Everest is selected by Investopedia as the best short-term insurer for college students.

4. Rod

Pivot is VeryWell Family’s best choice for short-term health insurance for college students because the policies are flexible, don’t tie you to the network, and thanks to Pivot’s telehealth services, students can arrange health care according to their schedule. In addition, discount programs provide an opportunity to save money. Student schedules are often demanding and varied. With Pivot, it’s not a problem to find time to visit a doctor because you can use their round-the-clock telehealth service or make an appointment with any doctor you’re comfortable with.

Pivot is their favorite provider of short-term health insurance for students due to its flexible and cost-effective coverage. The deduction starts at $1,000. When you visit a doctor or receive any covered health services, you must pay a coinsurance of 20% or 30%. Pivot limits the amount you’ll pay out of pocket for coinsurance from $3,000 to $10,000 before the plan’s maximum coverage is reached. The maximum amount of coverage is $ XNUMX million, although the duration of the policy and the possibility of renewing it depend on the state.

The normal duration of the policy is six months. You can customize your plan with things like teeth and vision coverage. A short waiting period is a key advantage of short-term insurance contracts. With Pivot, coverage can begin as early as 5 days or 30 days for cancer coverage. Some disadvantages include exceptions for pre-existing diseases, sexually transmitted infections, maternity care, and other services.

Pivot Health was founded in 2016. Since then, it has partnered with AM Best A+ rated Companion Life Insurance Company to guarantee its short-term insurance policies. These plans are often cheaper than regular health insurance, but they are not protected by ACA regulations. Pivot insurance is available to residents of Washington, D.C., and 24 states under the age of 65. You can customize the elements of their policies using the online quote system.

5. IMG

Because of the numerous plan options, large maximum limits, and the ability to choose a low deductible, IMG is Investopedia’s top recommendation for international students. It also provides maternal and psychiatric care. Obtaining appropriate health insurance as an international student studying in the United States is crucial. Medical care can be costly if you get sick or have an accident. IMG offers a variety of insurance products for international students, insured by Sirius International Insurance Corporation, which can be customized to meet your specific needs.

Its plans also include prescription drug coverage, allowing you to get the medications you need while in the U.S. IMG allows you to add other coverage options and passengers to your policy at an additional cost. Additional insurance will insure you against loss or theft of your luggage, valuables and personal documents. It also protects you from personal liability. The availability of these additional insurances may vary depending on the type of insurance, region, and other factors.

If you add an adventure sports rider to your policy, you will be covered if you participate in any risky sports such as bobsleigh, skydiving, kayaking, or windsurfing. Depending on the plan, you can set a maximum limit of $50,000 to $8 million. However, you should know that J1 and JXNUMX visas require a minimum of $2,100 XNUMX in insurance coverage. If you have a pre-existing condition, such as a chronic illness, treatment for that condition is often not covered until the waiting time has passed.

The duration varies depending on the plan; however, they are usually 6-12 months. Although IMG is not included in the JD Power Commercial Member Health Plan Study, its parent company has an AM Best A- (excellent) rating. With personalized insurance plans and high maximum limits, IMG is an ideal choice for international students looking to study in the United States.

6. Tokio Marine HCC Health Insurance Services

Tokio Marine HCC Health Insurance has been ranked first in VeryWellFamily’s international student insurance rankings due to its numerous low-cost plans with high maximum limits and cheap deductibles. Adequate health insurance is essential for international students studying in the United States. Students may find that this is a requirement of their visa or school, but even if it is not, it is a reasonable protection against exorbitant expenses as a result of an accident or illness.

Tokio Marine offers low-cost and lucrative plans for students visiting the United States, making them one of the best solutions for international students. You can add accident death and emergency response riders to your Tokio Marine policy, and personal liability insurance is provided by some plans. Students under the age of 65 can choose from four levels of Student Secure coverage. Smart Cover is the most basic plan, providing coverage of up to $200,000, while Elite’s comprehensive insurance provides coverage of up to $XNUMX million.

Policies of any length are available as long as the policyholder is a full-time student and coverage starts on the start date you specify. However, this does not apply to pre-existing conditions. Smart policy excludes pre-existing conditions, and fiscal policy has a 12-month waiting period. On the other hand, the Select and Elite options cover pre-existing conditions after the insurance has been valid for six months. There is also an extensive list of exceptions, such as injections, eye surgeries, and injuries sustained under the influence of illegal drugs.

Tokio Marine HCC, headquartered in Houston, provides health and life insurance in approximately 180 countries and has an A+ (Superior) financial rating from AM Best.

7. Blue Cross

Blue Cross Blue Shield was the obvious choice for our top general category for students who were looking for wide national and international coverage, a variety of coverage options, and low prices. The Blue Cross Blue Shield Association (BCBSA) provides health insurance to more than 110 million people in the United States. BCBSA was VeryWellFamily’s top choice because of its student plans, low-cost insurance alternatives, breadth of features, and incentive system.

The BCBSA comprises 35 individual entities, most of which have an AM Best financial strength score of A (excellent). When you enter your zip code on the BCBSA website, you will be taken to your local health care provider. Depending on where you live, you can choose from coverage levels ranging from catastrophic to fully platinum. You can also add dental and vision insurance to your package.

Catastrophe insurance provides lower monthly rates, but higher deductibles and cash limits. The coverage does not reach its limit. Anyone of any age can join the bronze, silver, and gold plans, but you must be under the age of 30 to sign up for catastrophic coverage. You must wait for the sign-up period to join these Marketplace plans, and coverage will begin on January 1st. Short-term options are available to fill any gaps in coverage.

People cannot be denied treatment for medical reasons, although cosmetic and experimental surgeries and long-term care are prohibited. Because BCBSA partners with institutions across the country, students can get cheaper coverage at their school. Students with modest incomes could potentially be eligible for government subsidies to pay for health insurance. BCBSA offers additional benefits for students, such as dentistry, pet insurance, exercise supplies, and savings on meal subscriptions.


College student health insurance helps cover the costs of expensive doctor visits, medical treatments, prescription drugs, and other expenses. Even if you think you don’t need to, your college can force students to enroll in health insurance. We have identified the best health insurance for both domestic and international students. Do not hesitate to postpone these medical expenses temporarily.


Can students use their parents’ health insurance while in college?

Under the Affordable Care Act, college students and young adults can remain on their parents’ health insurance coverage until they reach the age of 26. Even if you are married, living separately from your parents, or financially independent, you can join or continue your parents’ plan.

Getting coverage through your parents’ plan can be beneficial as you can continue to visit your current health care providers. You may have access to more comprehensive coverage than if you were alone, and adding a family member to an existing policy can be cheaper than getting individual coverage.

You may be added to your parents’ insurance during the annual open enrollment period, or if you lose your current health insurance, you may be eligible for special enrollment.

When you turn 26, you are no longer eligible for your parents’ insurance and must get your own.

How much does college health insurance cost?

The cost of health insurance for a college student is determined by your income, state, and student status.

For example, low-income children who are eligible for Medicaid can pay $0 per month for coverage, but school insurance typically costs between $1,500 and $2,500 per year.

If you choose the Health Insurance Marketplace plan, your rates are determined by your tier and deductible. If you meet certain income requirements, you may be eligible for cost-cutting assistance.

Can you be denied coverage for health reasons?

If the insurance plan is part of the ACA, you may not be denied coverage for health reasons. Pre-existing conditions cannot be excluded from insurance under the ACA. On the other hand, short-term or other insurance that is not covered by the ACA may deny someone coverage for various health problems or charge them exorbitant fees. Examples are obesity, pregnancy, HIV diagnosis, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease. Each carrier has the right to determine health conditions that exclude anyone.

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