If you are heading off to college in Oklahoma, getting health insurance coverage is something you should do sooner rather than later.
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.
But here’s some good news — you have options in the Sooner State.
What You Need to Know
Most Oklahoma colleges and universities don’t require students to have health insurance. They do recommend it.
Voters approved Medicaid expansion, which opens eligibility to adults age 19-64 based on how much they make.
Enrollment in the expanded Medicaid program opens July 1, 2021.
Why Oklahoma Students Need Health Insurance
Most college students may not think about health insurance coverage. Why? Because they’re young and healthy. But illness and injuries can happen to anyone. And if they happen to you, major medical bills could find their way to your mailbox. So, it’s a good idea to have comprehensive coverage even if your school doesn’t require it.
Will You Attend School In-State or Out-of-State?
If you live in Oklahoma and attend college in state, your current health insurance may cover you when you move into the dorms.
If you live out of state and move to Oklahoma to study, your current plan may not offer you the coverage you want or need. Why? Health plans generally tie your network of providers to a geographic region. If you live in New York but go to school in Oklahoma, the doctors your insurer will pay for likely work back east.
Can Someone Claim You as a Dependent?
If someone else claims you as a dependent on their income taxes, you will need to include their income when applying for an ACA plan or a low-cost or free government plan. A lower household income may qualify you for higher subsidies.
Will You Stay on Your Parent’s Health Insurance Plan or Enroll in Your Own?
There are a few factors to consider when making this decision. It may cost little or nothing to remain on your parent’s plan. However, if you attend school in a different city or as an out-of-state student, check with your insurance company if in-network providers are near your school.
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 costs:
- 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: amount you owe for doctor’s office visits and/or prescription drugs; and,
- Coinsurance: your share of a payment against a claim, which kicks in after you’ve met your deductible.
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. Your answers should help you find a plan that best suits your needs:
- 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?
What If You Skip Health Insurance Coverage?
Opting out of health insurance could leave you with substantial debt if you get ill or hurt. Or the cost of care may tempt you to skip that doctor’s visit when you need it.
How to Get Covered Under Your Parent’s Plan in Oklahoma
If you go to college in Oklahoma and your parents live in a different state, make sure there are in-network providers near your campus. The Affordable Care Act requires insurance plans to offer dependent coverage for children up to age 26.
How to Get Covered Under Your School Plan in Oklahoma
Check your school’s website. It has the best information about student health services, health insurance requirements, plans and costs.
International students and students enrolled in Health Science programs at the University of Oklahoma must have comprehensive health insurance coverage. They have two options: sign up for the student health plan or apply for a waiver with alternative coverage.1
The University of Oklahoma encourages enrollments in the student plan by lowering the class requirement. Any student taking nine hours or more of campus-based classes qualifies.
How to Get Covered through the Affordable Care Act in Oklahoma
You can enroll in ACA plans through the federal health insurance Marketplace.3 Monthly premiums for 2021 plans ranged from $367 to $502, depending on plan level.4 Based on your household size and income, you may qualify for subsidies to help you pay health insurance premiums for an ACA plan. Use this subsidy calculator to check whether you qualify.
Students may be added to their parent’s Obamacare plan during the annual Open Enrollment Period, or apply on their own for coverage in Oklahoma. Moving to Oklahoma for college may also qualify you to enroll during a Special Enrollment Period if you miss the Open Enrollment deadline.
You apply with your parents or by yourself depending on your age and if you are a dependent.
- Younger Than 26:
If you’re under 26, you apply with your parents.
- Over 26:
If you’re older than 26, you apply for your own plan.
Just a quick word if you’re younger than 26: If your parents claim you as a dependent on their tax return, the government considers you as part of their household. This applies even when you live away from home. If you apply for coverage with your family, you list your income and your parent’s under household income. If no one claims you as a dependent, then you only add your income in the application.
How to Get Covered through Medicaid or CHIP in Oklahoma
You can also get covered with SoonerCare, Oklahoma’s Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program. Oklahomans voted to expand Medicaid, raising the maximum qualifying income to $17,796 (for a single person). This takes effect on July 1, 2021.
You may qualify for Medicaid coverage if you make less than $17,796 a year and your parents don’t claim you on their tax return. (Oklahoma has other eligibility requirements like residency) 5
If you don’t meet Oklahoma’s Medicaid requirements, you may qualify CHIP coverage.6
You can enroll at the Oklahoma Health Care Authority.
What Are Other Options for Coverage in Oklahoma?
Catastrophic health insurance plans have low premiums but high deductibles. People under the age of 30 are eligible to apply for a catastrophic plan. If you choose this option, you will have very high out-of-pocket costs before any coverage kicks in.
Short-term health insurance plans are offered by several carriers in Oklahoma. These temporary plans serve as a stop-gap when you lost your major medical insurance coverage. They generally do not cover preexisting conditions and may not offer the 10 essential health benefits required of ACA plans. Short-term plans follow federal guidelines, allowing 364 days of coverage for up to 36 months maximum.7
Resources for Oklahoma Students
Healthcare.gov – information about ACA plans, coverage, eligibility requirements and enrollment applications.
Oklahoma State University – information about the university’s student health insurance plan.
University of Oklahoma – information about coverage requirements and options for students.
Just because the Oklahoma college or university you choose might not require you to have health insurance, it doesn’t mean it’s not a smart move to have it anyway. If you become ill or are injured while you’re there, you’ll be glad you’re covered.