What You Need To Know
Students who attend college in South Carolina have several healthcare options.
You can choose to enroll in your school’s health insurance plan, stay on your parent’s policy, or get your own.
Consider all options to see what’s best for you. Consider your needs, the cost, and the doctors you need.
What Are Health Insurance Options for South Carolina Students?
Whether you’re a student or a parent of one who will attend college in South Carolina, it’s important to know your health insurance options. The process of applying for health insurance can be tricky, and more so for college students who may be faced with an overwhelming number of options. But good news! We’re here to help your options for South Carolina health insurance.
What are those options?
- Stay on your parents’ health plan (if you’re under 26).
- Enroll in school-sponsored insurance.
- Buy your own plan off the health insurance marketplace.
- Seek out alternatives with Medicaid, short-term health insurance or other options.
Why Do South Carolina Students Need Health Insurance?
Medical expenses can be pricey. And if you don’t have insurance, all of that medical care could put you in a bad place financially.
A visit to the emergency room or hospital can run into the thousands. Adequate coverage will ensure you don’t pay all of that out of pocket if you’re injured or sick.
What Should You Consider When Searching for Student Health Coverage in South Carolina?
Ask yourself these questions and discuss them with family. Doing so will help you choose the right coverage for you:
- Will you attend school in-state or out of state?
- Can someone claim you as a dependent?
- Will you stay on your parents’ plan or enroll in your own plan?
- What plans are cheaper?
- What plans offer better coverage?
- What if you skip health insurance?
- What are health insurance rules in South Carolina?
How Do You Get Covered Under Your Parent’s Plan in South Carolina?
One healthcare option is to stay on your parent’s plan as a dependent1. What’s a dependent? It’s a person who relies on someone else for financial support. If you have a dependent, you can also claim a tax deduction to support them.2
If You’re Under Age 26
If you’re under 26 years of age, you can typically get insured under your parent’s insurance while you’re in school. Before the Affordable Care Act (ACA) was implemented in South Carolina, dependent children could stay on parents’ insurance until age 223.
Make sure the insurance is accepted where you plan to attend school. If you live outside South Carolina, your parents’ insurance may only cover you in the case of an emergency.
Is there a way to have both? Although there are multi-state plans available through the ACA, you usually can’t have insurance in two states at the same time. So it’s best to be covered in the place where you’ll be primarily living, unless you truly only anticipate emergencies.
Younger than 26?
If you’re under age 26, you’re likely still eligible for healthcare coverage under your parent’s medical plan.
How Do You Get Covered Under Your School Health Insurance Plan in South Carolina?
Another option is to get coverage with a student health insurance plan offered by your school. Most colleges and universities require health insurance. Here are a few examples:
University of South Carolina: The University of South Carolina requires that their students are covered, and offers a health insurance plan for students who want or need to enroll in this plan. The plan may be waived if you meet the proof of healthcare requirement. But watch out for out-of-network costs.
Clemson University: Clemson University offers mandatory and voluntary plans. The requirements change from year to year, so be sure to find out if it’s mandatory or voluntary for you.
Do your research if you want to go with the school’s plan, especially if you have the option of using other coverage as proof of health insurance. In-state plans may not be considered in-network in your area. Out-of-state plans won’t cover you except for emergencies.
Live out of state?
Because in-state plans may not be considered in-network, and out-of-state plans only cover emergency care, a plan provided by the college may be your best bet.
How Do You Get Covered through the Affordable Care Act in South Carolina?
Another way for students to get covered in South Carolina is through the Affordable Care Act. The ACA was a law enacted in March 2010 with the goals of making affordable health insurance available to more people4. There are two ways to get covered through the ACA in South Carolina:
- Apply with your parents
- Apply by yourself
You apply for health insurance coverage on the federal health insurance marketplace. If you apply for your own insurance policy, you may qualify for help paying for it. Subsidies can help reduce your monthly payments or you can claim in your taxes.
The open enrollment period to buy a policy generally lasts from November 1 through December 15 of each year. There are also special enrollment periods for those who are eligible. Any plan you purchase through the ACA is only available for in-state applicants. If you purchase out of state, you’ll only be covered for emergency visits in South Carolina.
Want to learn more about options and plans in South Carolina? Visit the South Carolina Department of Insurance website.
How Do You Get Covered through Medicaid in South Carolina?
You can also get healthcare coverage through Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program in South Carolina. These programs have slightly different terms in the state. The plans are provided by South Carolina Healthy Connections.
The Healthy Connections (Medicaid) Program
Eligibility for Medicaid in South Carolina depends on your family’s makeup and income. There are also different eligibility tables based on your family’s unique medical needs.
Partners for Healthy Children (PHC)
Healthy Connections provides health insurance plans for children in South Carolina of families with income at or below 208% of the Federal Poverty Level. For a single person, that limit is $26,790 a year.
Other eligibility requirements include:
- Being under 19 years of age.
- Being a resident of South Carolina.
- Being a U.S. citizen or a Lawful Permanent Resident Alien.
- Having a Social Security number or verifying an application for one.
To apply, visit the South Carolina Healthy Connections application portal.
What Are Other Options for Coverage in South Carolina?
Students looking for their own plans have other options for coverage.
- Catastrophic health plan: This is a type of insurance that has low premiums and high deductibles that will keep your healthcare in a reasonable range if something serious were to happen to you. Think of it as “worst-case-scenario” insurance.5
- Short-term health insurance Short-term health insurance is temporary coverage meant to bridge gaps between major medical insurance. The coverage period can last no longer than 33 months in South Carolina. Short-term health insurance can also be a good option for college students if you don’t meet other requirements.
What Are Resources for South Carolina Students?
Here are some resources to help you make the right decision regarding health insurance as a South Carolina student:
Healthcare.gov: Lowest monthly SHOP health insurance premiums in South Carolina
Department of Insurance, South Carolina: Affordable Care Act
If you’re a student or soon-to-be student in South Carolina (or a parent of one), your concerns regarding health insurance options are understandable. Going to college is a major life change that’s both exciting and worrisome, and you want to be prepared by knowing what health insurance options are out there.