Concerned about healthcare coverage for the school year? There are several choices for college students in Missouri.
What Are the Health Insurance Options for Missouri Students?
Missouri students can choose from these options:
- Through your school: Many colleges offer affordable plans for students.
- Through your parents’ health plan: If you’re under 26, you can stay on your parents’ plan.
- Health Insurance Marketplace plans: You can apply for a federal or state Marketplace plan that meets Affordable Care Act (ACA) requirements in your state of residence.
- Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP): Based on your age and income, you may be eligible for free or low-cost health coverage through Medicaid (MO HealthNet) or the Missouri Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP).1
- Catastrophic health plans: If you’re under 30, you can access a limited-coverage, high-deductible plan to cover you if you get seriously sick or injured.
- Short-term health insurance: Missouri short-term plans have six-month initial terms, renewable to a total of 36 months. They’re generally more affordable than traditional insurance but offer less coverage.
- Job-based health plan: If you’re working, you may be eligible for insurance through your employer.
What You Need to Know
You can get insured through your parents’ plan or through a plan you buy yourself.
Plans vary greatly in what benefits they offer and what they cost.
Plans that meet Affordable Care Act (ACA) requirements and student health plans have specific enrollment periods, while other types are available year-round.
Why Do Missouri Students Need Health Insurance?
Like most college students, you’re probably healthy and rarely see a doctor. So, you figure you don’t need health insurance. Young adults have the highest uninsured rate of any group.2
You may need health insurance to meet your school’s insurance requirement. You may also need it for preventive care or to manage a chronic health condition. One in six young adults has a chronic health condition or illness.3
Being uninsured could add to your debts after graduation. You could be stuck with large medical bills for a severe accident or sickness. According to U.S. government statistics,4 it could cost up to $7,500 to fix a broken leg and $30,000 to spend three days in a hospital.
A Word of Advice
If you’re an out-of-state student on your parents’ plan, make sure the plan offers providers near your school.
What to Consider When Searching for Student Health Coverage in Missouri?
Here are some questions to keep in mind.
Will You Attend School In-State or Out-of-State?
Whether you go to school in-state or out-of-state, your parents can cover you through their Marketplace plan or job-based plan (if it covers dependents). In both cases, check to see if their plan has contracted with providers near your school.
Can Someone Claim You as a Dependent?
If your parents claim you as a dependent and you decide to buy your own Marketplace plan, you won’t qualify for premium subsidies.
Will You Stay on Your Parents’ Plan or Enroll in Your Own Plan?
If you’re not your parents’ dependent for tax purposes, you might have far lower premiums by buying your own plan and accessing subsidies with your lower income.5
What Plans Are Cheaper?
The cost of some plans will depend on the assistance you’re eligible for based on your (or your family’s) income. You might be eligible for no- or low-cost Medicaid health coverage or subsidies on Marketplace plans.
Catastrophic insurance policies (also available through the Marketplace) have low premiums, although they have very high deductibles.6 And a short-term insurance policy could give you temporary coverage for less than what a full-fledged insurance plan would cost.
What Plans Offer Better Coverage?
ACA-compliant plans generally offer the most comprehensive coverage. By law, they must cover preexisting conditions and “essential health benefits,” including hospital care, prescription drug coverage, maternity services and mental health services.
What If You Skip Health Insurance?
You won’t pay a penalty for being uninsured, but your school might require insurance for admission. If you’re uninsured, you save on monthly costs but risk larger out-of-pocket bills for any medical expenses.
What Are Health Insurance Rules in Missouri?
Missouri is an open competition state and can’t regulate premiums on most types of health insurance. Competition among companies is what determines premium rates, so compare rates at several companies.7 Four companies represent a significant part of the business, creating a “highly concentrated” environment with reduced competition.8 In 2020, eight companies offered plans in different counties, both on and off the Marketplace. But most counties only had two to three companies available.9
Many colleges and universities offer healthcare plans to students.
How Do You Get Covered Under Your Parents’ Plan in Missouri?
As long as you’re under 26, you can stay on your parents’ plan or be added to their application during the Open Enrollment Period (or during a Special Enrollment Period, should you qualify). It doesn’t matter if you’ve graduated, get married, have a child or move out of your parents’ home.10
How Do You Get Covered Under Your School Plan in Missouri?
Many colleges offer health plans to students, usually depending on their number of credit hours. These plans might be funded directly by the school or through an insurance company. Benefits and costs can vary from school to school. Costs are usually charged with the school’s other expenses so that you can apply loans to your healthcare coverage. Your school’s admissions office can provide detailed information.11
Students at Washington University in St. Louis have enrolled automatically in its Injury and Sickness Insurance Plan at $1,942 for the year unless they have proof of comparable coverage.12 University of Missouri – Kansas City offers a Student Health Insurance plan through Aetna Student Health.13 Missouri State University – Springfield provides students with access to its own student health center for a prepaid fee. It recommends insurance coverage options to U.S. students; insurance is mandatory for international students.14
How Do You Get Covered Through the Affordable Care Act in Missouri?
You can buy ACA-compliant plans through the Marketplace or off-exchange (directly from insurers or licensed agents).
If you’re under 26 and aren’t already on your parents’ plan, they can add you during the plan’s yearly Open Enrollment Period (OEP). If you qualify for a Special Enrollment Period, such as by losing your health insurance, you can be added outside of the OEP.
You can apply through the Marketplace in your state of residence. (The enrollment windows are the same.) These plans are purchased on a month-to-month basis, so you can buy one even if you need it for less than a year.
You may be eligible for subsidies on specific Marketplace plans. Many Missourians receive subsidies, either advanced premium tax credit (APTC) or cost-sharing reductions (CSR), which lower the amount of out-of-pocket expenses. The average monthly premium in 2018 was $646, but with the APTC subsidy, Missouri’s average monthly cost dropped to $75.15
How Do You Get Covered Through Medicaid or CHIP in Missouri?
In mid-2020, Missouri voted to expand Medicaid under the ACA to healthy individuals and families with low incomes.16 If you apply for insurance through the Marketplace website, you’ll be notified if you’re eligible for MO HealthNet (Medicaid) or Missouri Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). (CHIP offers coverage to age 19 for a higher income than Medicaid.)17
You can also visit the Missouri Department of Social Services website to see if you qualify for free or low-cost coverage.18
What Are Other Options for Coverage in Missouri?
You have several other health insurance options in Missouri.
Catastrophic health plans can protect you against major medical expenses. They’re available to those under 30 who can’t afford other coverage and need a plan with a low monthly premium.19 Because these plans have high deductibles, you may have to pay large amounts out-of-pocket before your coverage begins. Plans are available through the Marketplace.
Short-term health plans in Missouri allow an initial term of six months. After that, they follow the federal guidelines for renewals up to a total of 36 months. These plans don’t have to meet the ACA requirements, so not everything will be covered.20 Insurers can charge you more or reject you based on your health or preexisting conditions. No subsidies are available.
What Are Resources for Missouri Students?
Missouri’s Department of Higher Education & Workforce Development provides finance and healthcare information for college students.21 Its Journey to College website can also be helpful.22
As you make important decisions about college, make sure to include health insurance on your list. With a variety of options, you can find a plan that works for you.