Short-Term Health Plans: Affordable Health Insurance for College Students

Updated on: July 30th, 2020

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In the fall of 2014, 21 million college students walked across an American college or university campus to begin their fall studies. That’s millions of students who might have all of their financial aid in order to pay for college, but did they have enough left over to pay for health insurance? Thankfully, affordable health insurance for college students isn’t too difficult to attain.

College students have several options when it comes to health insurance coverage. For one, students can stay on their parent’s health insurance plan until they are 26 years old – but that isn’t always economically-feasible for mom and dad. Some colleges offer health insurance plans for their students, but provider networks can be limited. Then, there’s short-term health plans – affordable health insurance for college students who are either paying for coverage on their own or getting a little help from their parents.

In most cases, college students can get short-term health insurance for 30 days for temporary protection. Short-term plans can last for a whole gap year (up to 364 days). Depending on your state and your insurer, you can apply for coverage extensions (subject to approval).

Pricing varies by state and smaller deductible amounts can make pricing higher. In either case, short-term health insurance can provide some mental security, knowing that should a major illness or accident during the school year occur, there is some financial protection in place to help pay for medical bills that arise.

Benefits of Short-Term Health Insurance

  • Coverage can start as fast as 24 hours from application acceptance and payment receipt;
  • No provider networks – students have the freedom to see any doctor they choose;
  • Multiple deductible options, so students who need a richer plan to help pay for doctor office visits have coverage they need; and
  • It’s affordable. Short-term health plans cost about one-third the price of individual health insurance.

Why Short-Term Health Insurance Might Not Work for You

While short-term health plans are a great affordable health insurance for college students, it isn’t for everyone. There are some required medical questions on the application that could disqualify an applicant from obtaining coverage due to a pre-existing condition. In those cases, it might be best for a student to look into individual health insurance to see if they might qualify for a tax subsidy to lower the overall expense of their health plan costs.

Short-term health insurance is also not considered a qualifying Obamacare plan, which means that you would have had to pay a tax penalty for relying on one up until 2018. However, as of 2019, tax penalties are only in effect in 3 states. In many instances, the cost of a short-term health plan and the fine of the tax penalty can still be less money than an Obamacare plan overall. It pays to do the math in advance.

Part-time or full-time, undergrad or graduate, commuter or dorm-room dweller, short-term health plans fit a range of college students who need to put healthcare worries aside while gaining a higher education.

Taking the Next Steps

It’s you’re in between major health plans, or looking for temporary health insurance to fill some immediate needs, it’s worth doing additional research.

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