What You Need to Know
Most Mississippi colleges and universities do not require students to have health insurance.
Some schools offer optional yet affordable student health plans.
Short-term health insurance is recommended only as stopgap coverage.
Have you selected a college in Mississippi? Congratulations! Have you selected a health insurance plan that will cover you while you’re there? If your response is, “I haven’t even thought about that,” you need to. Health insurance is not an enrollment requirement at most Mississippi colleges and universities, but having a plan is recommended.
Although the Affordable Care Act (ACA) mandates that you can stay on your parent’s plan until you reach age 26, that plan may not offer the coverage you need. Nonetheless, you have options for getting covered in case you need more than what the campus clinic provides.
Now that you have made the important decision of where to go to school, it’s time to decide how you will cover your health while you’re there.
Why Mississippi Students Need Health Insurance
Most college students are young and healthy, but illness and accidents can happen to anyone. If they do, unexpected medical expenses could put you into debt and keep you from completing your degree. That’s why most Mississippi schools recommend that students have comprehensive health insurance coverage.
Will You Attend School In-State or Out-of-State?
If you’re a Mississippi resident attending a Mississippi school, it’s likely that whatever coverage you currently have will provide the same health coverage while you’re in school.
If you’re a resident of another state who’s coming to Mississippi to study, your current insurance plan may not cover the physician, hospital or other providers you might need to see.
Can Someone Claim You as a Dependent?
If someone else claims you as a dependent on their income taxes, that impacts how you answer questions about household income and household size if you’re applying for an ACA plan or a low-cost or free government plan.
Will You Stay on Your Parent’s Health Insurance Plan or Enroll in Your Own Plan?
There are a few factors to consider when making this decision. It may cost you little or nothing to remain on your parent’s plan. However, if you’re attending school as an out-of-state student, check with the insurance company to make sure there are providers in the plan’s network near your school.
Question the coverage
You can stay on your parent’s health plan until you’re 26, but it may not provide the coverage you need.
What Plans Are Cheaper?
When evaluating a plan, be sure to look closely at all the costs, which include:
- Premiums: the annual cost to have insurance, paid monthly
- Deductible: the amount you must spend before your plan starts to contribute toward your healthcare expenses
- Copayments: for doctor’s office visits and/or prescription drugs
- Coinsurance: your share of a payment against a claim, which kicks in after you’ve met your deductible
The price of a plan
If you’re shopping for a health plan, there’s more to consider than the cost of the monthly premium.
What Plans Offer Better Coverage?
To determine if a plan has the coverage you really need, start by answering these questions:
- Are there in-network providers within easy access of campus?
- Is there prescription drug coverage?
- Are mental health services and preventive care covered?
- Do you have a preexisting medical condition that requires frequent treatment and/or medication? If so, are there in-network providers on your parent’s plan or qualified local providers if you switch plans?
- If you study abroad, will your plan cover you while you’re there?
What If You Skip Health Insurance Coverage?
If the Mississippi college you attend does not require that you have health insurance, you may be tempted to go without coverage. But if you have an illness or injury that requires medical treatment not included in your student health services fee, you may regret not having it.
How to Get Covered Under Your Parent’s Plan in Mississippi
The ACA requires insurance plans to offer dependent coverage for children up to age 26. If you go to college in Mississippi and your parents live in a different state, make sure there are in-network providers near your campus unless you’re only going to use your plan when you’re home on break.
How to Get Covered Under Your School Plan in Mississippi
Check your school’s website for information about campus health services and health insurance requirements, coverage options and plans.
The University of Mississippi, usually referred to as “Ole Miss,” does not require undergraduate students to have health insurance but recommends it. The school offers a student health insurance plan (SHIP) to students enrolled in nine hours or more.1
How to Get Covered through the Affordable Care Act in Mississippi
Mississippi participates in the federal Marketplace. The 2021 monthly premiums for Mississippi ACA plans ranged from $407 to $543, depending on plan level.4 Use this calculator to check whether you qualify for a subsidy. Students may be added to their parent’s Obamacare plan during the annual Open Enrollment Period, or apply on their own for coverage in Mississippi. Moving to Mississippi to go to college may also qualify you to enroll during a Special Enrollment Period if you miss the Open Enrollment deadline.
Depending on your age and dependency status, you will apply with your parents or on your own.
- Apply with parents:
If you are under age 26 you can be included on your parent’s application if they’re also applying for coverage under a Mississippi Marketplace plan.
- Apply on your own:
If you are over age 26 or are moving to Mississippi for school, you will apply for your own plan.
If you’re under 26 and your parents claim you as a dependent on their tax return, you are part of their household even if you’re not living at home. When the application asks for household income, include yours plus your parent’s. If you’re not claimed as a dependent on anyone’s tax return, you should include only your income. That makes it more likely that you’ll qualify for a subsidy.
How to Get Covered through Medicaid or CHIP in Mississippi
Mississippi Medicaid is available for children up to age 19 and their parents/caretakers, pregnant women, and the blind or disabled.
Children’s Health Insurance Plan (CHIP) coverage is available for children under age 19 who are not eligible for Medicaid. The current maximum monthly income for a household of one is $2,298.5
Applications for Mississippi Medicaid and CHIP are handled via online application on the Access MS portal or the federal Marketplace.
What Are Other Options for Coverage in Mississippi?
Catastrophic health insurance plans offer low premiums but high deductibles to people under the age of 30. These plans provide essential health benefits coverage and some preventive services.
Resources for Mississippi Students
Healthcare.gov – provides information about ACA plans, coverage, eligibility requirements, and enrollment applications.
Jackson State University – provides information about health insurance requirements for students in campus housing
Mississippi State University – provides information about student health insurance requirements, the university’s SHIP option
University of Mississippi – provides information about the university’s SHIP eligibility and enrollment
Just because most Mississippi colleges do not require health insurance coverage does not mean no coverage is a wise choice. Taking advantage of a parent’s plan, a Mississippi Marketplace plan or a school plan is a smart investment in your future. Consider your needs and budget and research your available plans and health insurance companies providing them.