If you’re a college student, you’ve got a lot on your mind, and health insurance is probably in the back of it. Health insurance is something that’s important to think about, though, as much as you don’t want to. If you have a medical emergency and don’t have health insurance, you could really go into debt from medical bills. Add that to any student loan debt you may have for college and you will not be happy when graduation comes. You’ll want to start your post-college life out right, and health insurance now means financial security later.

Many adults have health insurance through their employer, but if you’re a college student only working part-time (if you even work at all), you may not be offered health coverage through your employer. If employer-based coverage isn’t an option for you, here are 3 coverage options for college students that you should consider:

Student Health Insurance Through Your College or University

A study by the American College Health Association found that 38% of four year colleges require their students to have health coverage. Not only do many colleges require health coverage, but more importantly, they offer the option to buy a health plan through the school. According to healthcare.gov, most student health plans offered through the school are considered minimum essential coverage, but be sure to make sure before enrolling.2

Academic institutions vary on what they offer, so it’s always best to check with your school first.

Coverage Under a Parent’s Plan

On their job-based plan: Many plans allow children to stay on their parents’ health insurance plans until they are 26 (30 in Florida). If you were already covered on your parents’ plan and they don’t mind you remaining on it, this may be a viable option, considering there is no further action you would need to take. 1

If you dropped coverage with them for one reason or another, but you and your parents
have made the decision for you to join the plan again, you can likely be added during their
employer’s yearly open enrollment period. They can check with their employer to get the
details on how exactly they can get you added. 1

On their Marketplace plan: If your parents are enrolled in a Marketplace plan, you can be added when they update their application through the Health Insurance Marketplace. You can only be added during the yearly Open Enrollment Period or Special Enrollment Period.
If you want to continue with this option but it’s not Open Enrollment Period, a short-term plan may be useful in the meantime

Get Your Own Marketplace Plan

If you want to shop for your own health plan and aren’t interested in those available to you through your school or parents, you can choose your own plan through the Marketplace. You could qualify for subsidies based on your income (because quite often, college students don’t have the highest income), which could save you money on your premiums or out-of-pocket expenses 2

IMPORTANT: If someone claims you on their taxes as a dependent, you will not be eligible for subsidies. Don’t let this stop you, though, because you can still get a Marketplace plan- it will just be the full price 2

Something Else to Consider Before You Make Your Decision

Location, location, location. If you’re attending college out of state and you want to be covered under your parent’s’ plan, check the plan’s network providers. You don’t want to be struck with a medical emergency at school, only to find out that every hospital and doctor around you is out-of-network.

Also consider where you’ll be likely to get care. If you’re at school out of your home state, but know that you’ll be returning frequently to visit your own doctor, you might want a plan that includes that doctor in their network. On the contrary, if you know you’ll be getting all of your care where you’re at school, a plan that covers more doctors and facilities in that area may be a safer bet.

As a college student, health insurance is probably not your main concern, but having coverage now will really help your future. As you prepare to graduate and transition into your dream job, you shouldn’t be worrying about medical bills from college from a lack of health insurance. Secure a worry-free, post-college life now 🙂


  1. How to get or stay on a parent’s plan. Retrieved December 16, 2015 from healthcare.gov website https://www.healthcare.gov/young-adults/children-under-26/
  2. In school? Student health plans. Retrieved December 16, 2015 from healthcare.gov website https://www.healthcare.gov/young-adults/college-students/