California Health Insurance for College Freshmen and Undergraduates

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Heading off to college soon or a returning student? Benefits Cafe has affordable California health insurance for college freshman! Most incoming freshman and undergrads don’t think they need to worry about insurance. You might think you’re immune to injury or that there’s just too many other things to be concerned about. But, it’s best to figure out your coverage now rather than wait until an emergency happens.

Most California colleges and universities require that all students have health insurance coverage. So to enroll in classes, you have some options:

  1. Be covered by your parents’ policy.
  2. Purchase the insurance offered by your school.
  3. Have your own insurance.

Option 1: Coverage under Parents’ Plan

Many college students are covered by their parents’ policies. It used to be that students could only stay on their parents’ plans until age 23. This changed in 2010 when the Federal Health Insurance Reform Law (PPACA) required insurance companies to allow all children to stay on their parents’ plan until age 26 – regardless of student status.

Staying on your parents’ plan may be a good option, but you need to do a little research first, and research is a huge part of the college experience, so it’ll be pretty simple, right?

If you’re going to school out of state or a considerable distance from home, you want to make sure that you are able to find a doctor in the vicinity of your campus that accepts your insurance and is within your “network.” That’s why having affordable California health insurance is so important.

HMO plans frequently do not cover non-emergency treatment outside of a certain area and forbid visits to out-of-network providers. All PPO plans reimburse less when seeing a provider that is not part of their network. If being outside of your network will be a problem, you will need to look at your other options for insurance.

Option 2: Coverage under College Plan

Many colleges offer health insurance for college freshmen and other students. The benefits of these plans vary from school to school, so check with your school’s admission office for details and read this article about college health plans.

Some are subsidized by the school, so they may be low cost, but make sure to read the fine print. Some plans offer low premiums (monthly costs), but limit coverage. These plans may cover very basic medical care, but exclude things you might really need. For instance, some college plans do not cover injuries sustained playing intramural sports.

While you want to have health insurance in case of a catastrophe like a car accident or worse, you are much more likely to get a sprained ankle playing intramural basketball, for example.

Also, many college plans limit the maximum lifetime benefit to $50,000. Given the high cost of medical care, this is an extremely small amount of coverage. If some catastrophe occurs, you’ll need significantly more coverage than this amount.

So, make sure you understand the maximum amount the plan will pay and generally, what a policy will and won’t cover before signing on.

Option 3: Coverage under Your Own Individual Plan

Your third option is getting your own insurance plan. There are many affordable California health insurance plans that will provide the coverage you need. Having your own insurance plan also ensures that you can keep your coverage without your status at college or your parents’ employment. So, if you need to take a semester off, transfer schools switch to part-time status, or your folks lose their job, you will keep your coverage.

If you have a pre-existing medical condition, be careful and avoid letting your coverage lapse, since this can make it difficult to get coverage in the future. Most insurance companies will either decline to cover someone with a pre-existing medical condition or increase the monthly cost for the coverage.

Benefits Cafe can help you understand health insurance for college freshmen, so you can find something that fits your needs and budget.

Click here to obtain a California individual health insurance quote.

Updated: September 2012