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New York Student Health Insurance Options | Healthcare Coverage and Plans

HealthCare Writer

Updated on April 30th, 2024

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.

Concerned about healthcare as you head off to your college or university in New York? If you’re like most college students, you probably don’t think you need health insurance because you’re rarely sick. Young adults make up the age group with the highest uninsured rate.1 But if you want insurance, or if your school requires it, New York offers you several choices. 

What You Need to Know

You can buy a plan for yourself or get insured through your parents’ plan.

Benefits, restrictions and costs vary greatly between plans. 

Student health plans and plans that meet Affordable Care Act (ACA) requirements have specific enrollment periods, while other types can be purchased year-round.

Looking for Health Insurance?

Find Affordable Healthcare That’s Right for You

What Are the Health Insurance Options for New York Students?

There are multiple things to consider when looking for health insurance in New York. Here are some options:

  • Through your school: Many colleges offer affordable plans for students, either their own or through insurance companies. 
  • Through your parents’ health plan: If you’re under 26 (or possibly 29), you can stay on your parents’ plan. 
  • Health Insurance Marketplace plans: You can apply for a plan that meets Affordable Care Act (ACA) requirements through your state’s Marketplace.
  • Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP): Based on your age and income, you may be eligible for no- or low-cost health coverage through Medicaid, Child Health Plus (CHIP) or the Essential Plan.2 
  • Catastrophic health plans: If you’re under 30, you can access a high-deductible plan to cover you if you’re injured or get seriously ill. 
  • Job-based health plan: If you’re working, you may get insurance through your employer. 

Check Your Providers

Whether you’re an in-state or out-of-state student on your parents’ plan, make sure the plan offers providers near your school.

Why Do New York Students Need Health Insurance? 

There are several reasons why it makes sense to get health insurance. You may need healthcare coverage to meet your school’s admissions requirement. You may also have a chronic condition that needs to be managed. One-sixth of young adults have a chronic health condition or illness.3 

Being uninsured could lead to extra debts after graduation. You could be left with medical bills for a severe accident or sickness. U.S. government statistics4 say it can cost up to $7,500 to fix a broken leg and $30,000 to spend three days in a hospital.

School Health Plans

Many colleges and universities offer healthcare plans to students.

What to Consider When Searching for Student Health Coverage in New York?

Here are some questions to keep in mind.

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

Whether you choose an in-state or out-of-state school, your parents can cover you through their Marketplace plan or job-based plan (if it covers dependents). In either case, check with the insurer to see if it’s contracted with providers near your school.

Can Someone Claim You as a Dependent? 

If you decide to buy your own Marketplace plan and your parents claim you as a dependent, you won’t qualify for premium subsidies. 

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

New York’s “Age 29” law may let you stay on your parents’ insurance until age 29,5 whether the plan is through an employer or the Marketplace.6 If you’re not their dependent, you may find lower premiums by buying your own plan. Your lower income may qualify you for subsidies.

What Plans Are Cheaper?

Your (or your family’s) income will determine the cost of some plans based on available assistance. You might be eligible for no- or low-cost Medicaid health coverage or subsidies on Marketplace plans. Catastrophic insurance policies also have low premiums, but they don’t qualify for subsidies.7 

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? 

New York doesn’t mandate health insurance, so 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 New York?

New York State of Health is New York’s Marketplace. You can use it to shop and sign up for plans and access federal assistance. Its expansion of Medicaid includes a Basic Health Program (known in New York as the Essential Plan) created in only two states for people earning more than the Medicaid limit, but less than 200% of the federal poverty level ($25,520 for a single person).8 

New York doesn’t allow insurers to charge differently based on age or tobacco use.9 Patients are protected from surprise (or balance) billing, meaning they don’t pay the difference for out-of-network healthcare providers performing services at in-network hospitals.10 Also, New York requires that the commissions for all products be calculated the same inside and outside the Marketplace.11

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

Up to age 26 (or possibly 29), you can stay on or be added to your parents’ application during the Open Enrollment Period (or during a Special Enrollment Period, if you qualify).12 It doesn’t matter if you graduate, get married, have a child or move out of your parents’ home.13

How Do You Get Covered Under Your School Plan in New York?

Many colleges offer health plans to students, usually depending on their number of credit hours. These plans are funded directly by the school or through an insurance company. Benefits and costs can vary by school. Costs may be charged with the school’s other expenses so that you can apply loans to your healthcare coverage. Your school’s admissions office can provide more details.14

All students at New York University (NYU) have access to basic services at its Student Health Center. Most are also automatically enrolled in the NYU-sponsored Student Health Insurance’s network with private insurers.15 Columbia University requires most students to have comprehensive health insurance. It offers the Columbia Plan, whose members receive primary care through Aetna Student Health.16 At Cornell University, all students must have quality health insurance. It supports Student Health Plan (SHP), Student Health Plan Plus (SHP+) and other plans administered by Aetna Student Health.17

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

You can buy ACA-compliant plans through the New York State of Health Marketplace or off-exchange (directly from insurers or licensed brokers). 

If you aren’t already on your parents’ plan and you’re eligible, they can add you during the plan’s yearly Open Enrollment Period (OEP), which in New York lasts longer than most (November 1 through January 31) each year. You can be added outside of the OEP if you qualify for a Special Enrollment Period, such as by losing your health insurance.

You can apply through your home state’s Marketplace. Since Marketplace plans are purchased on a month-to-month basis, you can buy one even if you don’t need it for a full year.

Financial help can lower the cost of coverage, possibly as subsidies on specific Marketplace plans. An advanced premium tax credit (APTC) or cost-sharing reductions (CSR) can lower your out-of-pocket expenses.

How Do You Get Covered Through Medicaid or CHIP in New York?

New York has expanded its Medicaid coverage to low-income adults.18 If you apply for insurance through the Marketplace website, you’ll be notified year-round if you’re eligible for Medicaid, the Essential Plan or Child Health Plus (CHIP). (CHIP offers coverage to age 19 for a higher income than Medicaid.)19

Adults with incomes between 133% and 200% of the federal poverty level are covered through the Essential Plan, a federally subsidized Basic Health Program.20

What Are Other Options for Coverage in New York?

Catastrophic health plans are another option in New York. They’re available through the Marketplace to those under 30 who can’t afford other coverage and need a low monthly premium plan.21 They can protect you against major medical expenses, but you may have to pay large amounts out-of-pocket before your coverage begins because of their high deductibles.22

Short-term health policies are not available in New York. 

What Are Resources for New York Students?

You can visit the New York State of Health website to see if you qualify for free or low-cost coverage.23 If you need help enrolling, you can find a broker, navigator, or certified application counselor through the same website.24 

Next Steps

Make sure to include health insurance as you make important decisions about college. With a variety of options, you can find a plan that works for you. 

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  1. U.S. Census Bureau. “Uninsured Rates Highest For Young Adults Aged 19 to 34.” (accessed January 29, 2021).

  2. New York State Department of Health. “Individuals & Families.”  (accessed January 29, 2021).

  3. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. “Young Adults and the Affordable Care Act: Protecting Young Adults and Eliminating Burdens on Families and Businesses.” (accessed January 29, 2021).

  4. U.S. Government Website for the Federal Health Insurance Marketplace. “Protection from high medical costs.” (accessed January 29, 2021).

  5. New York State Department of Financial Services. “COBRA, Age 29 and Continued Coverage Information.” (accessed January 29, 2021).

  6. U.S. Government Website for the Federal Health Insurance Marketplace. “How to get or stay on a parent’s plan.” (accessed January 29, 2021).

  7. U.S. Government Website for the Federal Health Insurance Marketplace. “Catastrophic health plans.” (accessed January 29, 2021).

  8. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. “2020 poverty guidelines.” (accessed January 29, 2021).

  9. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. “Market Rating Reforms.” (accessed January 29, 2021).

  10. New York State Department of Financial Services. “Surprise Medical Bills.” (accessed January 29, 2021).

  11. Davis, Caroline et al. “New York Insurance Markets and the Affordable Care Act.” Health Management Associates presentation,, December 2012 (accessed January 29, 2021).

  12. New York Insurance Markets and the Affordable Care Act.”

  13. 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 January 29, 2021).

  14. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. “Student Health Plans.” (accessed January 29, 2021).

  15. New York University. “Student Health Insurance.” (accessed January 29, 2021).

  16. Columbia Health Administration. “About the Columbia University Student Health Insurance Plan.” (accessed January 29, 2021).

  17. Cornell University Student Health Benefits. “Student Health Benefits.” (accessed January 25, 2021).

  18. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. “Medicaid & CHIP in New York.” (accessed January 29, 2021).

  19. Individuals & Families.”

  20. Medicaid & CHIP in New York.”

  21. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. “Start the school year strong with health insurance.” (accessed January 29, 2021).

  22. New York State Department of Health. “NY State of Health – Standard Catastrophic Plan.” (accessed January 29, 2021).

  23. New York State Department of Health. “Individuals & Families.” (accessed January 29, 2021).

  24. New York State Department of Health. “Find Broker/Navigator.” (accessed January 29, 2021).