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Michigan Student Health Insurance Options | Healthcare Coverage and Plans

Published: 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

You can get insurance coverage through your parents’ plan or your own plan.

Different kinds of plans vary significantly in what they cost and cover. 

Special enrollment periods apply to student health plans and those that meet Affordable Care Act requirements, while others can be purchasedyear-round.

Are you planning on healthcare as you head off to school? You may not think you need health insurance because you’re rarely sick. As an age group, young adults have the highest uninsured rate.1 But if your college or university requires medical insurance or if you want coverage, Michigan offers you several choices.

What Are Health Insurance Options for Michigan Students?

You have several options for healthcare in Michigan. Here are a few:

  • Through your college or university: Many schools offer affordable plans for their students, either their own or through insurance companies. 
  • Your parents’ healthcare plan: You can stay on your parents’ plan until age 26.
  • Health Insurance Marketplace plans: Plans that meet Affordable Care Act (ACA) requirements can be purchased through your state’s Marketplace.
  • Through Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP): You can get no- or low-cost health coverage through the Healthy Michigan Plan (Michigan’s Medicaid) or MI Child (Michigan’s CHIP), depending on your age and income.2  
  • Catastrophic health plans: If you’re under 30, you can get a lower-premium, high-deductible plan to cover medical emergencies. 
  • Short-term health plans: You can get 185-day plans that aren’t ACA-compliant. 
  • Job-based health plans: If you work, your employer may offer health insurance.

Why Do Michigan Students Need Health Insurance? 

Many schools require health insurance for admission. You may have a chronic medical condition you need to manage. One in six young adults has a chronic illness or health condition.3 

Having an insurance policy also protects you against high medical bills from sickness or injury, which can leave you with extra debts after graduation. The federal estimate4 for fixing a broken leg is up to $7,500 and $30,000 to spend three days in a hospital.

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

These are some questions to think about:

Will You Attend School In-State or Out-of-State? 

Your parents’ Marketplace plan or job-based plan (if it covers dependents) can cover you no matter where you go to school. Be sure their plan offers network providers near your school.

Coming from Out of State?

If you’re on your parents’ plan, check that the plan has network providers near your school, especially if you’re an out-of-state student.

Can Someone Claim You as a Dependent? 

Your parents can claim you as a dependent, but you won’t be able to get premium subsidies if you decide to buy your own Marketplace plan. 

Will You Stay on Your Parents’ Plan or Enroll in Your Own Plan?   

You may be able to stay on your parents’ Marketplace or employee plan until age 26.5 On your own plan, your lower income could qualify you for lower premiums through subsidies as long as your parents haven’t declared you as their dependent.

What Plans Are Cheaper?

Your income (or your family’s income) can determine if you’re eligible for subsidies on Marketplace plans or no- or low-cost Medicaid health coverage. While premiums for catastrophic insurance policies are also low, they don’t qualify for subsidies.6 

What Plans Offer Better Coverage?

Plans that are ACA-compliant will typically offer the most comprehensive coverage. They’re required by law to cover preexisting conditions and “essential health benefits,” including hospital care, emergency services, prescription drug coverage and mental health services.  

What If You Skip Health Insurance? 

Michigan doesn’t mandate health insurance, so you won’t pay a penalty if you don’t have insurance. But your school still might require healthcare coverage for admission. You might save money on monthly expenses, but you risk larger out-of-pocket bills if you need medical care. 

What Are Health Insurance Rules in Michigan?

Michigan’s rules on short-term insurance plans are more restrictive than the federal rules.  

Medicaid is a federal-state partnership that lets states choose how to run their plan. Michigan created its Healthy Michigan Plan to offer ACA-level essential benefits at a low price and expanded Medicaid to non-parents or related caregivers. This means you can earn up to 133% of the federal poverty level7 as a single person ($16,970) and still get Medicaid coverage.8

School Plans

Many colleges and universities offer student healthcare plans, either their own or through insurance companies.

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

You can be added to your parent’s plan during the annual Open Enrollment Period (or during a Special Enrollment Period if you qualify).9 As long as you’re under age 26, it doesn’t matter if you live with your parents or if you graduate, get married or have a child.10

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

Many schools in Michigan offer student health plans to students enrolled for a certain number of credit hours. These plans may be funded directly by the school or offered by an insurance company. Coverage and costs will vary by school. In some cases, costs may be included with the school’s other fees so that you can apply loans to your healthcare coverage. Your school’s admissions office will have more details.11

University of Michigan at Ann Arbor students should have health insurance. All students who pay the health service fee can receive services from the University Health Service (UHS) with no copay. The University of Michigan sponsors a Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan ACA-compliant voluntary plan for $1,796 per year for services not covered. 

Michigan State University strongly recommends that students have good health insurance coverage. Primary care services are available at Olin Student Health Center at typical local costs after three free visits per academic year. Blue Care Network of Michigan administers MSU’s student health insurance plan, which is voluntary and costs $1,942 for the 2020-2021 year.  

At Calvin University, all students must show proof of health insurance. The Calvin Health Services staff provides primary care. The school also offers insurance through the United HealthCare Student Plan at $1,758 per policy year.

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

You can buy an ACA-compliant Qualified Health Plan in Michigan through the federal Health Insurance Marketplace or off-exchange through licensed agents, certified navigators or application counselors. Plans must be purchased through the Marketplace to qualify for subsidies.12 

Your parents can put you on their plan during the plan’s yearly Open Enrollment Period (OEP), which runs between November 1 and December 15. You can also be added outside of the OEP if you qualify for a Special Enrollment Period because of a life event, such as losing other health insurance.

Marketplace plans run month-to-month, so you don’t have to commit for a full year.

If you’re eligible, you can lower your out-of-pocket costs with subsidies such as an advanced premium tax credit (APTC) or cost-sharing reductions (CSR) on specific Marketplace plans.13 

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

You can apply at Michigan’s MI Bridges portal to see if you qualify for Michigan’s Medicaid or CHIP programs. You can also check the federal Marketplace website at any time of year. Michigan’s Medicaid program includes the Healthy Michigan Plan, which covers all the federal essential health benefits, plus other services, at an affordable price.

Michigan broadened its reach by extending its Medicaid coverage to low-income adults who aren’t parents or caretaker relatives.14 If you’re under 19, you might qualify under MI Child or Healthy Kids (Michigan’s CHIP programs).15 (CHIP is a federal program created to help states provide coverage for children under age 19 in families whose income is too high for Medicaid.)16

What Are Other Options for Coverage in Michigan?

Catastrophic health plans in Michigan are available if you’re under 30. These Qualified Health Plans are offered through the Marketplace and have lower premiums but higher deductibles.17 You may have significant out-of-pocket expenses before your coverage begins, but the plans cover three annual primary care visits and preventive services before the deductible is met.18  

Michigan offers short-term plans, but the state is less flexible than what the federal rules allow. Policies can only cover 185 days or less in each 365-day period.19 These plans don’t have to offer ACA protections, and insurers can cover what they want. They can also reject you for preexisting conditions or other health issues. 

Short-term health insurance can be purchased locally through agents or brokers. Premiums are usually low, but check that the plan covers what’s important to you. 

What Are Resources for Michigan Students?

You can visit Michigan’s Health Insurance Marketplace or call (800) 318-2596 to see if you qualify for subsidies on ACA plans or free or low-cost coverage. Local help is available, too. Register with Michigan’s MI Bridges to find and explore resources related to Medicaid, Healthy Michigan Plan, MI Child or Healthy Kids insurance.

Next Steps

If you’ve decided you need health insurance, compare the healthcare options available in Michigan so you can pick the best plan for your needs. That way, you can sign up before you head off to school. 



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  1. U.S. Census Bureau. “Uninsured Rates Highest For Young Adults Aged 19 to 34.” census.gov (accessed February 16, 2021).

  2. Michigan Department of Health & Human Services. “Medicaid Programs.” michigan.gov (accessed February 16, 2021).

  3. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. “Young Adults and the Affordable Care Act: Protecting Young Adults and Eliminating Burdens on Families and Businesses.” cms.gov (accessed February 16, 2021).

  4. U.S. Government Website for the Federal Health Insurance Marketplace. “Protection from high medical costs.” healthcare.gov (accessed February 16, 2021).

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  6. U.S. Government Website for the Federal Health Insurance Marketplace. “Catastrophic health plans.” healthcare.gov (accessed February 16, 2021).

  7. U.S. Government Website for Medicaid. “Medicaid & CHIP in Michigan.” medicaid.gov (accessed February 16, 2021).

  8. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. “2020 poverty guidelines.” aspe.hhs.gov (accessed February 16, 2021).

  9. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. “Young Adults and the Affordable Care Act: Protecting Young Adults and Eliminating Burdens on Families and Businesses.” cms.gov (accessed February 16, 2021).

  10. Internal Revenue Service, Employee Benefits Security Administration and Department of Health and Human Services. “Interim Final Rules for Group Health Plans and Health Insurance Issuers Relating to Dependent Coverage of Children to Age 26 Under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.” Federal Register (May 13, 2010): 11391 (accessed February 16, 2021).

  11. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. “Student Health Plans.” cms.gov (accessed February 16, 2021).

  12. Michigan Department of Insurance and Financial Services. “Health Insurance Marketplace.” michigan.gov (accessed February 16, 2021).

  13. Health Insurance Marketplace.”

  14. Medicaid & CHIP in Michigan.”

  15. Michigan Department of Health & Human Services. “Child Health Insurance at a Price You Can Afford.” michigan.gov (accessed February 16, 2021).

  16. U.S. Government Website for the Federal Health Insurance Marketplace. “The Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP).” healthcare.gov (accessed February 16, 2021).

  17. U.S. Government Website for the Federal Health Insurance Marketplace. “Start the school year strong with health insurance.” healthcare.gov (accessed February 16, 2021).

  18. Health Insurance Marketplace.”

  19. Michigan Department of Insurance and Financial Services. “Bulletin 2018-20-INS.” michigan.gov (accessed February 16, 2021).