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Massachusetts Student Health Insurance Options | Healthcare Coverage and Plans

Updated on: March 28th, 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

Health insurance can prevent large medical bills in an emergency. 

Short-term medical plans aren’t available in Massachusetts.

You can stay on your parents’ plan or buy your own. 

What Are Health Insurance Options for Massachusetts Students?

As you or your child get ready to attend a college in the Bay State, are you making plans for health insurance? Learn more about your healthcare options in Massachusetts and what you need to know about enrollment.

Why Do Massachusetts Students Need Health Insurance?

You may not think you need health insurance if you’re young and healthy. Young adults tend to have the highest uninsured rate.1 But serious illnesses or accidents can happen, and you could be left with big hospital bills to pay off after graduation. If you have diabetes or another preexisting condition, regular medical care helps keep you healthy. And the state requires health insurance coverage for students 18 and up.

What to Consider When Searching for Student Health Coverage in Massachusetts?

First, are you attending school from in-state or out-of-state? You can stay on your parents’ plan either way, but that might be more difficult if you’re an out-of-state student. Here are a few other considerations:

  • Can someone claim you as a dependent? You can get on your parent or guardian’s health insurance plan if you’re under 26 years of age and they can claim you as a dependent. 
  • Will you stay on your parents’ plan or enroll in your own? If you buy your own plan, you might qualify for subsidies if the plan meets Affordable Care Act (ACA) requirements. 
  • Which plans are cheaper? Catastrophic plans tend to have lower monthly costs but don’t cover as much as ACA-compliant plans. 
  • Which plans offer the best comprehensive coverage? Affordable Care Act plans are usually the most comprehensive but tend to cost more. They may be an option if you need regular doctor visits or other services.
  • Should you skip health insurance? You’d save on monthly costs, but you could end up paying much more out-of-pocket after a medical emergency. 
  • What are health insurance rules in Massachusetts? Adults in Massachusetts, including university and college students, are required to have insurance coverage and could face a penalty if they don’t. And short-term or temporary insurance isn’t allowed in Massachusetts. 

Coverage Required

Massachusetts requires adults to have healthcare coverage.

How Do You Get Covered Under Your Parents’ Plan in Massachusetts?

Per the ACA, you can be covered under your parents’ health care plan if you’re under 26 years old. This applies even if you don’t live with them or you have a job.

Your parents can add you to a plan bought on the state or federal Health Insurance Marketplace either during the annual Open Enrollment Period or during a Special Enrollment Period, which applies in certain situations like losing other insurance. 

If your parents’ health insurance policy is through their job, you can be added during that plan’s Open Enrollment Period or Special Enrollment Period.

If you’re an out-of-state student, make sure your parents’ plan includes network providers near your school. 

Covered Until 26

You can stay on your parents’ insurance plan until age 26.

How Do You Get Covered Under Your School Plan in Massachusetts?

Many colleges and universities offer student health plans, either their own or through contracting with a private insurer. Make sure your university health plan meets Massachusetts state law for qualifying coverage. You can apply your student loans toward a health plan, since these costs are bundled with other school expenses. 

Harvard University offers a Student Health Insurance Plan through Blue Cross Blue Shield for $1,961 per term that can be used throughout the U.S. and internationally. It offers emergency and mental health coverage as well as other benefits. Routine preventive care is offered through Harvard University Health Services and covered by the student health fee ($603 per term if living in Massachusetts).

The University of Massachusetts – Amherst provides a Student Health Benefit Plan through Wellfleet and coordinates care through University Health Services (UHS). UHS offers primary care and walk-in care. The plan costs $1,685 annually, and benefits include emergency and preventive care as well as prescription drug benefits.  

How Do You Get Covered Through the Affordable Care Act in Massachusetts?

Plans that meet ACA requirements must cover “essential benefits” like maternity and mental health services, and you can’t be rejected for preexisting conditions. You can apply for a plan through the Massachusetts Health Connector, the state Health Insurance Marketplace site. You can also apply off-exchange with a certified insurance agent

If you apply through the Marketplace, you may be eligible for subsidies that lower your costs. Check to see if you qualify before applying.  

How Do You Get Covered Through Medicaid or CHIP in Massachusetts?

Medicaid is a federal-state program that helps pay healthcare costs for those with low income or disability. The Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) offers coverage to children 18 or younger whose families earn too much to qualify for Medicaid. In Massachusetts, both programs are offered through MassHealth. You can apply online or call (800) 841-2900 to find out if you’re eligible. 

What Are Other Options for Coverage in Massachusetts?

Catastrophic health plans are available to those under 30 or others who may qualify for an exemption. These typically offer low monthly health insurance premiums with a high deductible and may be best suited for emergency coverage.

What Are Resources for Massachusetts Students?

The federal Health Insurance Marketplace site offers general information and tips.2 And the Massachusetts Department of Public Health has information about health insurance options. 

Next Steps

If you’ve decided to get healthcare coverage while you’re at school, you and your family should take a look at your finances and your health needs. Decide what plan makes the most sense for you before you sign up.



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  1. Conway, Douglas. “Uninsured Rates Highest For Young Adults Aged 19 to 34.” U.S. Census, October 26, 2020 (accessed March 17, 2021).

  2. U.S. Government Website for the Federal Health Insurance Marketplace. “In school? Student health plans & other options.” healthcare.gov (accessed March 17, 2021).