Health Insurance and Going to College

When preparing your child for college, aside from visiting the campus, taking the SAT, selecting a place to live, etc, one thing that should not be overlooked is selecting a health plan.  Usually, the parent's health plan will cover their children between the ages of 20 and 24 years old.  

There are sometimes conditions to meet for a child to qualify, such as the child must be financially dependent on the parents and the child must be enrolled in units considered to be a full time student.  Also, if the dependent child is 25 or older or at least 18 but decides not to go to college, and if the parent's plan is a group plan, the dependent may be eligible to continue on the plan by utilizing COBRA.

If you don't have a health plan, often there is a health plan available at the college your child is attending.  Sometimes colleges require health care coverage as part of enrollment.  There is usually an additional cost to subscribe to this plan, and considering how expensive tuition is these days, many do not consider paying for this additional cost.  However, it may be worth it, you can't always predict an injury or illness.  The costs and benefits vary widely among colleges.

Whether you have a health plan now or are looking into obtaining an individual health plan for your child, you should do your research and compare costs and available benefits.  Things you should consider: what is the typical copay/deductible, what medical treatment is covered (labs, xray, visits, surgery, dental), is there a pre-existing limitation, is your child covered when they go home (in state of out of state), do they have access to a specialist, is the plan a PPO or HMO, are there limitations on what medical providers they can see, is emergency treatment covered, are they covered during summer break, etc.

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