What You Need to Know:
If your parent’s plan is network-based, it may not cover healthcare services in your new location.
Check with your school to find out if they require you to have health insurance and if they offer a school-sponsored health plan.
Compare the costs and coverage of all plans available to you to find your best health insurance option.
There are many decisions to make when planning for college. Some decisions, like what classes to take or what dorm to live in, are probably already on your to-do list. But have you thought about health insurance?
Many students are surprised to find out that their current health plan does not provide coverage when they go away to college. Fortunately, in Arizona, there are other health insurance options.
Why Do Arizona Students Need Health Insurance?
Health insurance provides health and financial security in the event of a critical illness or injury. If something bad happens, medical expenses can add up quickly, leaving you with debt that could exceed your college tuition.
Will You Attend School In-State or Out-of-State?
If you are moving to a new city to attend college, whether in-state or out-of-state, the local doctors and hospitals may not accept your current health insurance. This is especially true if your existing plan is network-based and limited to a specific geographical area1.
Can Someone Claim You as a Dependent?
Some health insurance plans, like those offered under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), use household income to determine eligibility. That means if you are a dependent, your family’s income will be used to determine if you are eligible. If no one claims you on their taxes, only your income will be considered.
Will You Stay on Your Parents’ Plan or Enroll in Your Own Plan?
The ACA allows you to stay on your parents’ health plan up to age 26.2 If the plan considers the doctors in the city where your college is located to be out-of-network, your medical treatment costs will be much higher or may not be covered at all.
You can stay on your parent’s plan until you turn 26, but it may not give you the coverage you need.
What Plans Are Cheaper?
It is important to compare costs when you are evaluating health plans. Make sure you’re looking at all the costs involved, including premiums, deductibles, copayment, coinsurance, and out-of-pocket expenses for non-covered services.
What Plans Offer Better Coverage?
Coverage is the other critical factor when choosing health insurance. When comparing coverage, take into account the services that are covered as well as the network of doctors and hospitals you can access for care.
What If You Skip Health Insurance?
You can’t predict when you will need to access healthcare services. If you skip health insurance, there is a risk that you will have to pay expensive medical bills out of your own pocket.
How to Get Covered Under Your Parents’ Plan in Arizona?
- If you’re under 26
You can remain on your parents’ health insurance plan up to age 26.
- If you’re over 26
Once you turn 26, you will need to find your own coverage.
How to Get Covered Under Your School Plan in Arizona?
In Arizona, most schools do not require students to have health insurance, unless you are an international student. Even if health coverage is not required, your school will likely offer a school-sponsored plan for eligible students.
In Arizona, all three state universities (Arizona State, University of Arizona and Northern Arizona University) offer the Arizona Board of Regents Student Health Insurance Plan administered by Aetna Student Health.For the 2020-2021 school year, premiums were $1,030 for the Fall semester and $1,695 for the spring/summer semesters3. If your school requires you to have health coverage, they will probably enroll you in the student health plan and bill the premium to your student account. You can opt-out of the insurance, but you will need to show proof of alternate coverage and complete a waiver form before the deadline.
As you explore your health insurance options, make sure to find out whether your school requires you to have health coverage, and how they compare with your other choices.
How to Get Covered through the Affordable Care Act in Arizona?
In Arizona, enrollment in ACA health plans is through the federal health insurance Marketplace, healthcare.gov. The average monthly premium for Arizona Marketplace plans in 2020 was $442. Federal subsidies are available to help lower this premium. Use this calculator to check whether you qualify for a subsidy. Enrollment in an ACA plan will depend on your age and whether someone claims you as a dependent on their taxes.
- Apply with parents
If you are under age 26 and are staying within your state,4 you will apply with your parents.
- Apply by yourself
If you are over age 26 or attending an out-of-state school, you will apply by yourself. If you are a dependent, your application will include your parents’ income as well as your own. If no-one claims you as a dependent, your application will be based on your income only.
Help with Insurance
If you buy a plan through the federal Marketplace, you may be eligible for a subsidy.
How to Get Covered Through Medicaid or CHIP in Arizona?
Medicaid is an income-based program that provides low- or no-cost health coverage to children, adults, caregivers, the disabled and the elderly.5 KidsCare is the Child Health Insurance Program (CHIP) in Arizona and offers coverage for children up to age 19 who do not qualify for Medicaid due to a higher family income.6
In Arizona, Medicaid and KidsCare are available only for state residents. There is a combined, online application for Medicaid and KidsCare to help you determine if you’re eligible and to enroll.
What Are Other Options for Coverage in Arizona?
Catastrophic health plans and short-term health insurance are two other options for coverage in Arizona.
A catastrophic health plan may be an option if you are under age 30, have a special hardship or are unable to afford a traditional Marketplace plan. Catastrophic policies cost less than Marketplace plans. However, they have higher deductibles, meaning the out-of-pocket costs are much higher.7 To determine your eligibility, you must apply through the Marketplace.
Short-term health insurance offers temporary coverage during times of transition. In Arizona, short-term plans can last up to 12 months and can be renewed for up to 36 months. Although short-term plans are typically low-cost, they do not cover essential health benefits or pre-existing conditions, like ACA plans do. Many private health insurance companies offer short-term policies.
What Are Resources for Arizona Students?
The best health insurance resources for students in Arizona are:
- Your school’s student health insurance office or website.
- Cover Arizona, a state resource that provides assistance with determining eligibility for state health insurance programs (Medicaid and KidsCare) and the ACA Marketplace.
Deciding what type of health insurance coverage is best for you is a critical step in preparing for college. By taking time to understand your options and compare plans, you will be more informed and better prepared to access healthcare services while you are away at school.