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Colorado Student Health Insurance Options | Health Care Coverage and Plans

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Published on March 12th, 2021

We want to help you make educated healthcare decisions. While this post may have links to lead generation forms, this won’t influence our writing. We adhere to strict editorial standards to provide the most accurate and unbiased information.

What You Need to Know

It’s important to invest in health insurance if you’re a college student in Colorado, no matter your age or health condition. 

You can receive coverage through the Affordable Care Act if you apply with your parents, by yourself, or for a federal subsidy. 

If you have a low income, Health First Colorado and CHP+ are worth considering. 

What Are Health Insurance Options for Colorado Students?

If you’re a college student in Colorado, health insurance is important. This holds true even if you’re young and healthy. An illness or injury may strike when you least expect it and warrant the need for costly medical care. The good news is there a number of health insurance options for students in Colorado. Keep reading to find out what they are.

Why Do Colorado Students Need Health Insurance?

Health insurance may be a real lifesaver if you’re a Colorado college student. It can help you avoid high out-of-pocket expenses and provide affordable access to doctors, hospitals, and medications. 

While health insurance is designed to make healthcare more affordable, note that it may not fully cover every appointment, diagnostic test, procedure, and medication you need. Also, you’ll have to pay for it via premiums which can be expensive, depending on the plan you choose. 

What to Consider When Searching for Student Health Coverage in Colorado

There are several questions you may want to ask when you look for student health insurance in Colorado including:

  • Will You Attend School In-State or Out of State? The location of your college and whether or not it’s in Colorado will determine the options at your disposal. 
  • Can Someone Claim You as a Dependent? If you’re under 26, your parents or legal guardians may be able to claim you as a dependent.
  • Will You Stay on Your Parents’ Plan or Enroll in Your Own Plan? You may remain on your parents’ plan until you turn 26. You can also enlist in your own plan.
  • Which Plans Are Cheaper? You’ll likely want to focus on less expensive plans that fit your budget as a college student. 
  • Which Plans Offer Better Coverage? Coverage will be just as important as cost. You don’t want to end up with a plan that forces you to pay for most of your healthcare expenses out-of-pocket. 
  • What If You Skip Health Insurance? In the event you don’t invest in health insurance, come up with a game plan for how you’ll take care of medical expenses. 
  • What Are the Health Insurance Rules in Colorado? Every state has its own unique health insurance rules. Familiarize yourself with what they are in Colorado. 

How to Get Covered Under Your Parents’ Plan in Colorado

If your parents have health insurance, they may be able to add you to their plan (if you’re not on it already). However, this is only an option if you’re under the age of 26. Keep in mind that if you do receive insurance coverage through your parents, it may be more expensive than alternative options. 

Also, if you attend college somewhere other than Colorado, their plan may cover less than it typically does. Fortunately, you’ll be able to visit providers in your college state as long as it’s network based. 

How to Get Covered Under Your School Plan in Colorado

Depending on where you go to school, you may be able to enroll in a Student Health Insurance Plan (SHIP), which varies from college to college. At the University of Northern Colorado, for example, it’s administered by Cigna, comes with a $500 per year deductible, and pays 80% of in-network expenses. 1

The Anthem-administered SHIP at Colorado College costs $2,817 annually. Its deductible is $500 for in-network providers and $1,000 for out-of-network. There’s a $25 copay for in-network primary care and specialist care visits and the deductible doesn’t apply. Preventive care screenings are completely covered. 

If you decide on SHIP, make sure your plan offers the essential benefits outlined by the Affordable Care Act (ACA). 

How to Get Covered through the Affordable Care Act in Colorado

You can choose a number of health insurance options through the Affordable Care Act in Colorado such as:

  • Apply with Parents: If you’re under 26, you can remain on your student’s health insurance plan. This option is available to you even if you’re married, financially independent, or live in a different state. 
  • Apply by Yourself: You’re welcome to buy your own policy through the Connect for Health Colorado marketplace. There are a number of policies you can choose from with a variety of coverage levels and price points.2
  • Federal Subsidy: ACA’s federal subsidy limits the amount you pay for your insurance premiums. If you earn between 100% and 400% of the federal poverty level, you may want to consider it. 3

How Do You Get Covered through Medicaid or CHP+ in Colorado?

  • Medicaid: Medicaid is a federally funded, state-run program that offers health insurance to low-income adults. If you’re not dependent on your parent’s tax return and need to obtain health insurance on your own, it may be a good choice. In Colorado, the Medicaid program is known as Health First Colorado and comes with certain income requirements you must meet. 4
  • CHP+: If your income disqualifies you from Medicaid and you can’t afford private health insurance, CHP+ may be a solution. It’s for Colorado residents who earn under 260% of the Federal Poverty Level (FPL) and covers primary care, emergency care, urgent care, and more. 5

You can apply for Health First Colorado or CHP+ online and call 1-800-221-3943 for assistance. 

What Are Other Options for Coverage in Colorado?

  • Catastrophic Health Plan: A catastrophic health plan may make sense if you’re under 30 and meet the criteria for a hardship exemption like bankruptcy, foreclosure, or family death. 6 It’s high-deductible coverage that can save you thousands of dollars in emergency medical situations. 
  • Short-Term Health Insurance: Also known as temporary health insurance, short-term health insurance offers temporary coverage when you have a lapse in permanent coverage. Note that even though short-term plans are usually more affordable than ACA plans, they exclude important benefits like preventive services. 

What Are Resources for Colorado Students?

These resources to help you find the right student health insurance plan in Colorado. 

Next Steps

If you need assistance with Colorado student health insurance, we’re here for you. You can plug in your zip code and see the various options at your disposal. Best of luck in your search for student health insurance in The Centennial State.



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  1. “Student Health Insurance Program.” University of Northern Colorado. https://www.unco.edu/student-health-insurance-program/. Accessed February 2021.

  2. Connect for Health Colorado. https://connectforhealthco.com/. Accessed February 2021.

  3. “Subsidized Coverage.” Healthcare.gov. https://www.healthcare.gov/glossary/subsidized-coverage/, Accessed February 2021

  4. “Health First Colorado.” Colorado.gov. https://www.colorado.gov/pacific/hcpf/colorado-medicaid. Accessed February 2021.

  5. “CHP+.” Colorado.gov. https://www.colorado.gov/hcpf/child-health-plan-plus. Accessed February 2021.

  6. “Catastrophic Health Plans.” Benefits.gov. https://www.healthcare.gov/choose-a-plan/catastrophic-health-plans/. Accessed February 2021.