Graduate Students and Health Insurance

Graduate students are older than undergraduates and usually have different health insurance needs. Your needs might include:

  • Being more likely to need medical care than seemingly invincible undergrads.
  • Needing to cover a spouse.
  • Thinking about having children and needing maternity coverage.
  • Needing to cover your children.

If you’re looking for affordable health insurance in California, we’re here to help. Let’s look at some of the things you might want to consider when looking at plans:

You Need More Comprehensive Coverage

With age come more aches and pains. Doctors, prescription medicine and occasional hospital stays are not an abstract concept to grad students. You may have had a serious illness or had a friend who got sick and tested the limits of your university’s health insurance plan.

You may need no convincing to purchase a comprehensive, permanent, individual or family health insurance plan. And you likely have more resources to purchase a better policy than an undergrad. For advice about finding a good California health insurance plan, check out these videos on our home page and these charts.

You Might Need Spousal Coverage

If you’re married and your spouse needs affordable health insurance in California, then you have a few options. One option is that you can both enroll on the same policy. Usually the insurance companies use the age of the younger spouse to determine rates. So, if there is a big age difference between you and your spouse, this could save you some money.

Also, many of the family policies have family deductible maximums and Out-of-Pocket (OOP) limits that might help. Usually, the benefit of family deductible and OOP limits accrues to families with three or more members. One thing to consider is that if you are planning to have a baby or to adopt a child soon, you may save some money because of the combined family limits.

One trend in the individual and family health insurance market has been that many of the policies were “individual only” and would cover only one person. This meant that even if you were married, you would be considered separately if you enroll on one of these plans.

This trend seems to be ending, as now only a few “individual only” plans remain. As of September 2012, the only “individual only” plans are the Health Net PPO Value; Health Net Farm Bureau PPO Standard; and the Anthem Blue Cross Tonik plan.

If you’re a graduate student and health insurance is on your mind, but you’re not sure which type of policy you’re considering, call Benefits Cafe at (800) 746-0045.

Have You Thought About Maternity Coverage?

It was once the case that very few individual health insurance plans included maternity coverage. That changed July 1, 2012, when California Senate Bill 222 went into effect. It required that all individual health insurance plans include coverage for child delivery and prenatal and postnatal care.

When you get a quote for California health insurance at, all of the plans will include maternity coverage. Also, you want to make sure that you enroll on a plan that is not “individual only,” because you want to be able to add a newborn child to either the mother’s or father’s health insurance plan.

This is important in case there is a complication with the pregnancy and the newborn child needs medical treatment after birth. You don’t want to get caught in a mess if you have a policy where no family member can be added.

You Could Already Need Child Coverage

You should evaluate the cost of coverage for your entire family on one plan and also separately. If you cover your family under separate policies you may save a considerable amount on monthly premium.

You must understand that if everyone in your family gets very sick or has a serious accident and reaches the Out-Of-Pocket (OOP) limit, you could end up spending a lot of money. So, make sure you evaluate the worst-case situation and know what risks you are taking on. This comparison chart can help.

Click on image for a downloadable PDF:

Health Insurance Comparison

Children who are relatively healthy generally have minor medical needs beyond checkups and vaccinations. Accordingly, you may want to get a high deductible plan for your child or children. The high deductible means that you will pay for minor services out of your pocket and only have the insurance plan for catastrophic illness or injury. You’ll get the provider discounts that the health insurance company has negotiated for its members.

By saving money on your children’s policy you may free up some money to afford a more comprehensive policy for you and your spouse. And when it comes to being a graduate student, health insurance savings can be very important at this stage in your life.

How to Select Affordable Health Insurance in California

You may find this article that helps you compare California health insurance plans to be helpful. You may also want to read this article on where to start with health insurance in California.

If you’re ready, get a personalized California health insurance quote. The more you learn about health insurance, the more you will save. By understanding your coverage you will know how to use your plan.

We’re here to help, so contact us for advice and assistance. When you apply through, we’ll be your agent at no extra cost. As your agent, we’ll be able to help you should you ever have a question or problem.

Updated: September 2012