What You Need to Know
Health insurance can provide financial protection and peace of mind if you get sick, hurt or need treatment for a chronic medical condition while at school.
Make sure the health plan you choose will cover you in the state you go to school.
Students! You can stay on your parents’ plan until you turn 26.
You’re young. You’re healthy. You’re getting ready to start a new chapter in your life. Making sure you have adequate health insurance coverage may not be at the top of your to-do list, but it should be. Without it, you could be vulnerable to substantial medical bills if you experience an illness or injury.
Luckily, Nevada offers several affordable options to help you get the coverage you need to protect your health and your finances.
Why do Nevada Students Need Health Insurance?
Health insurance can provide financial protection and peace of mind if you get sick, hurt or need treatment for a chronic medical condition while you’re at school. If you don’t have insurance, you could be responsible for paying 100% of your medical bills instead of just a co-payment.
Those medical bills can add up quickly. In the United States, the average cost of a hospital stay is $2,093 per day at for-profit hospitals, $2,260 per day at local or state government hospitals and $2,653 per day at non-profit hospitals.1
There’s also another important reason to consider health insurance: Your school may require it.2
If you’re interested in purchasing a student insurance plan before you head off to college, there are a few things to consider.
Will You Attend School In-State or Out-of-State?
It’s important to make sure the health plan you choose will cover you in the state where your college or university is located — especially if you plan to go to school outside of Nevada. Before you purchase a health insurance plan, check with the carrier to make sure you’ll have access to healthcare if you leave the state.
Can Someone Claim You as a Dependent?
If someone can claim you as a dependent and you buy a separate insurance plan through the state’s Health Insurance Marketplace, you won’t be eligible for a premium tax credit, regardless of your income.3
Will You Stay on Your Parents’ Plan or Enroll in Your Own Plan?
In Nevada, you may stay on your parents’ employer-sponsored or Marketplace health insurance plan until you turn 26.4 After that you must purchase your own coverage. If you buy insurance on your own, it’s important to review your plan options and weigh the coverage they provide against the cost.
How Do You Get Covered Under Your Parents’ Plan in Nevada?
If you’re already on your parents’ health insurance plan, you can stay there until you’re 26, no matter where you live.5 If you’re not already on your parents’ plan, they can add you during open enrollment or during a special enrollment period if you qualify6.
If you’re on your parents’ plan, check the provider network to make sure there’s a physician or medical facility near your school that accepts the plan.
What Plans Are Cheaper?
It can be tempting to select the plan with the lowest premium, but that may not be the best choice.
If you’re on a tight budget, here are a few ways you may be able to get low-cost coverage.
- Medicaid, a government-sponsored healthcare program that helps pay the medical bills of qualifying low-income individuals and families.7
- Marketplace, the state’s health insurance exchange, where residents can purchase ACA-compliant health plans. If you don’t qualify for Medicaid, you may be eligible for tax credits and other savings that can help lower the cost of your premium.8
- Catastrophic coverage, which is designed to protect you against a serious sickness or injury that would result in high medical bills. Catastrophic coverage is typically cheaper than a traditional health insurance plan, but it has a high deductible, doesn’t cover routine medical treatment and doesn’t qualify for tax credits.9
What Plans Offer Better Coverage?
Most Marketplace plans (except catastrophic plans) cover a broad range of medical services, including routine care, surgeries, prescriptions, mental health services, physical therapy, emergency services, pre-existing conditions and more.10 11
No matter what type of plan you choose, it’s important to review your policy details carefully so you understand what’s covered and what’s not.
What If You Skip Health Insurance?
In 2017, Congress passed a tax bill that eliminated the penalty Americans had to pay for not having health insurance.12 So, you no longer have to pay a penalty if you don’t have coverage.13 However, it’s important to keep in mind that the college or university you attend might require it.14 15 If health insurance isn’t mandatory at your school and you choose to skip it, you’ll be on the hook for all of your medical expenses.
What Are Health Insurance Rules in Nevada?
Under the authority of the Affordable Care Act, Nevada created a state-based health insurance marketplace called the Silver State Health Insurance Exchange16. Residents can purchase coverage through the exchange at the Nevada Health Link website.17
If you want to get a subsidy to reduce the cost of your premium, you’ll have to buy your plan through Nevada Health Link.18 If you don’t need or qualify for a subsidy, you can work directly with an insurer or agent to purchase health insurance coverage.
How Do You Get Covered Under Your School Plan in Nevada?
Some colleges and universities offer health insurance plans to students.19 20 Typically, you need to meet certain enrollment requirements to be eligible. To find out if your school offers a student health plan and what the eligibility requirements are, check with the college or university you plan to attend.
For example, the University of Nevada, Reno, requires graduate, medical and international students — but not undergrads — to have health insurance.21 Students are automatically enrolled in the university’s health insurance plan when they register for classes. If you have your own health insurance, you can opt out of the school-sponsored plan by submitting a waiver.22
Undergraduates who are taking nine or more credits and graduate students taking six or more credits can also purchase optional supplemental accident and hospital insurance through the school.23
University of Nevada, Las Vegas, has similar requirements,24 while Sierra Nevada University requires all undergrads taking 12 or more credits a semester to have coverage but doesn’t offer a student health insurance plan.25
If you purchase a school-sponsored plan, you don’t have to worry about paying a penalty if it’s not considered qualifying health coverage. That’s because Congress repealed the individual mandate that was originally part of the Affordable Care Act (often referred to as Obamacare).26
How Do You Get Covered through the Affordable Care Act in Nevada?
You can purchase health insurance through the state’s Marketplace during open enrollment, which takes place from November 1–December 15 every year.27 In certain circumstances, you may also be able to enroll outside of this window. For example, if you get married, lose your job or move you might qualify for a special enrollment period.
How Do You Get Covered through Medicaid or CHIP in Nevada?
In Nevada, Medicaid is available to households with an annual income of up to 138% of the federal poverty.29 CHIP is available to children from birth to 18 living in a household with an income of up to 200% of the federal poverty level.30 In 2021, the federal poverty level for a family of four living in Nevada is $26,500.31
Unlike traditional health plans offered through the Marketplace, you don’t have to wait for open enrollment to sign up for Medicaid or CHIP. If you’re eligible, you can enroll in either program at any time.32
What Are Other Options for Coverage in Nevada?
Other types of health plans available to students in Nevada include catastrophic coverage and short-term health insurance. Catastrophic plans are only available to people under 30 or who qualify for a hardship or affordability exemption.34 While these plans have high deductibles and low monthly premiums, you typically need to pay for most routine coverage yourself.
Short-term health insurance is meant to bridge the gap until you can purchase permanent coverage. In Nevada, short-term plans may last for up to 185 days at most,35 and they often come with exclusions you won’t find with a traditional Marketplace plan. For example, they don’t include reimbursement for the following services:
- Maternity care
- Prescription drugs
- Treatment for mental illness
- Substance use disorder services
- Preventive services such as annual exams and cancer screenings
- Treatment for developmental delays
- Pre-existing conditions
- Vision care
These plans can charge you higher premiums based on pre-existing conditions, age and gender. Your coverage can also be terminated if you’re diagnosed with a medical condition while you’re insured under the plan.36
What Are Resources for Nevada Students?
If you’re looking to buy health insurance before you leave for college, check out your school’s website to find out if the college or university offers health coverage.
You can also visit the Nevada Health Link website37 to see if you qualify for a Marketplace insurance plan. You’ll find information about student health plan options and ways you can get personalized assistance if you have questions or need help finding coverage that’s right for you.
Buying health insurance may not be the most exciting thing you do as you prepare to head off to college, but having adequate coverage can help ensure you get the care you need when you need it. It can also help you avoid racking up hefty medical bills that could take years to repay—not exactly what you want on top of any student loans you might have. So, don’t forget to check out your options before you head off to school.