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What Are Health Insurance Options for Rhode Island Students?

Updated on July 1st, 2021

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.

What You Need to Know

Rhode Island colleges and universities require their students to have health insurance coverage.

Rhode Island schools automatically enroll students in university health plans unless they complete a waiver form.

The state mandates that residents have health insurance that includes essential services.

When the car’s packed and you are ready to head to Rhode Island for college, don’t forget about health insurance. Most schools in Rhode Island require it. 

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. The good news is that you have coverage options for affordable health insurance.

Why Rhode Island Students Need Health Insurance

Most college students are young and healthy. But sickness and injury can happen to anyone at any age. Without health insurance, students risk being saddled with medical expenses that could be crushing.

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

If you’re from Rhode Island attending college in Rhode Island, your current health insurance may provide the same coverage while you’re in school.

But if you’re coming from another state to study, your current plan may not cover Rhode Island healthcare providers.

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 or size. This is relevant if you are applying for a plan on the state-based insurance exchange or a government plan. 

Will You Stay on Your Parent’s Health Insurance Plan or Enroll on Your Own?

There are a few factors to consider when making this decision. It may cost little or nothing to remain on your private insurance or employer plan. However, if you’re attending school in a different city or state, check with the insurance company that there are providers you can go to near your school. 

Consider Coverage

You can stay on your parent’s health insurance 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 health insurance 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

Understand your costs

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 prescriptions?

What If You Skip Health Insurance Coverage?

Since Rhode Island schools require students to have health insurance, you won’t be able to skip coverage.

How to Get Covered Under Your Parent’s Plan in Rhode Island

The ACA requires insurance plans to offer dependent coverage for children up to age 26. If you go to college in Rhode Island and your parents live in a different state, make sure there are in-network providers near your campus.

How to Get Covered Under Your School Plan in Rhode Island

Check your school’s website. It’s the fastest way to find out about student health services, health insurance requirements, student health plans and the cost of health insurance premiums. 

The University of Rhode Island, Brown University and Rhode Island College, automatically enrolls undergraduate and graduate students in the school’s student health insurance plan (SHIP). The school adds the cost of health insurance to your tuition and fees bill. To opt out, you can complete a waiver form showing you have adequate coverage.1

Brown offers a SHIP scholarship for students who need help paying the plan premium.2

How to Get Covered through the Affordable Care Act in Rhode Island

Rhode Island operates its own health insurance exchange, HealthSource RI, which provides some of the most affordable premiums in the country. In 2021, monthly premiums ranged from $231 to $339 depending on plan level.3 Use this subsidy calculator to check whether you qualify. 

You can join your parent’s Obamacare plan during the annual Open Enrollment Period. You can also apply on your own. Moving to Rhode Island 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 HealthSource RI plan.

Apply on your own:

If you are over age 26 or are moving to Rhode Island for school, you will apply for your own individual plan.

If you’re under 26 and your parents claim you as a dependent on their tax return, you are part of their household. 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 SCHIP in Rhode Island

Medicaid plan eligibility in Rhode Island includes low-income adults, children, seniors, people with disabilities, pregnant women, children in foster care and former foster youth up to age 26.4 The annual income threshold under Medicaid expansion is less than $17,131 for a household of one person.5

Rhode Island RIte Care, the State Children Health Insurance Plan (SCHIP), is available for children under age 19. They must have annual household incomes of less than $32,200 to qualify.6

Online enrollment forms for Medicaid, SCHIP and plans on the state-based health insurance exchange are handled via the HealthSource RI website.

What Are Other Options for Coverage in Rhode Island?

Catastrophic health insurance plans have low premiums but high deductibles. People under the age of 30 are eligible to apply for a catastrophic plan. 

Short-term health insurance plans are not available in Rhode Island. The state’s health insurance regulations require that coverage provides essential benefits, which short-term plans do not.7 There are no insurers offering short-term plans in Rhode Island.

Resources for Rhode Island Students

Healthcare.gov – provides information about ACA plans, coverage, eligibility requirements and enrollment applications. 

HealthSource RI – provides information and enrollment opportunities for coverage through the state-based insurance exchange.

Brown University – provides information about the university’s student health insurance requirements and its SHIP.

Rhode Island College – provides information about automatic enrollment in its SHIP.

The University of Rhode Island – provides information about health insurance requirements and its SHIP.

Next Steps

You will need health insurance coverage while you’re attending college in Rhode Island. The good news is that the state and its schools offer several affordably priced options. And that should keep you covered through graduation.



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  1. The University of Rhode Island. Insurance. uri.edu. Brown University. Student Health Insurance. brown.edu. Rhode Island College. School Health Insurance. ric.edu. Accessed April 16, 2021.

  2. Gallagher. Student Health & Special Risk. gallagherstudent.com. Accessed April 16, 2021.

  3. Kauffman Family Foundation. Average Marketplace Premiums by Metal Tier.  kff.org.   Accessed April 16, 2021.

  4. HealthSource RI. Medicaid. healthsourceri.com. Accessed April 16, 2021.

  5. Benefits.gov. Rhode Island Medical Assistance (Medicaid). benefits.gov. Accessed April 16, 2021.

  6. Benefits.gov. Rhode Island RIte Care (SCHIP). benefits.gov. Accessed April 16, 2021.

  7. Rhode Island Department of State. Minimum Standards for Health Benefit Plans. sos.ri.gov. Accessed April 19, 2021.