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What Are Health Insurance Options for South Dakota Students?

Updated on September 22nd, 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

Your parents’ plan may not cover healthcare services in your new location.

Most colleges and universities in South Dakota do not require that students have health insurance, though they recommend it. 

Compare the costs and coverage of all your options to find the best health insurance plan for you. 

From the Badlands to the glacial lakes and prairies, there are many colleges in the Mount Rushmore state. Before you head off to school in South Dakota, make sure you have a plan for health insurance

Why Do South Dakota Students Need Health Insurance?

Health insurance provides access to the care you need when you need it. Without it, the costs of a sudden illness or injury may impact your ability to remain in school or graduate. 

If you’re looking for health insurance coverage while in school in South Dakota, here are some things to consider.

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

Many families have network-based plans that limit their service area1. If you’re traveling away for school, whether in-state or out-of-state, your current plan may not provide adequate coverage. 

Can Someone Claim You as a Dependent?

If your parents claim you as a dependent on their taxes, your eligibility for some low- or no-cost health insurance plans and the premiums you pay will be based on your family’s household size and income. 

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

Thanks to the ACA, you can stay on your parents’ health plan up to age 262. But your parents’ plan may not be the best option if healthcare providers near campus are out-of-network. In that case, your medical treatment costs will be higher or may not be covered at all.

What Plans Are Cheaper? 

When comparing the costs of health plans, there are many to consider:

Consider All Costs

There’s more to the price of health insurance than the monthly premium.

What Plans Offer Better Coverage? 

It’s also important to compare coverage. When shopping for health policies, look at the services that are covered as well as the network of providers you can access for medical care. 

What If You Skip Health Insurance? 

Students often think health insurance is unnecessary. But a trip to the emergency room or a hospital stay can be very costly if you have to pay for it out-of-pocket. Health insurance protects you from these unexpected medical expenses. 

Protect Your Financial Health

Even young, healthy people can get sick or injured. You can end up with crushing debt if you don’t have health insurance.

How to Get Covered Under Your Parents’ Plan in South Dakota

  • If you’re under 26

Up to age 26, you can remain on your parents’ health insurance plan.

  • If you’re over 26

Once you turn 26, you will need to find your own coverage

How to Get Covered Under Your School Plan in South Dakota

Health insurance policies for state schools, such as South Dakota University, the University of South Dakota, Black Hills State University, and others, are established by the South Dakota Board of Regents. The Board recommends that students have health insurance but does not require it3. Only international students and student athletes are required to have health coverage. 

In general, South Dakota colleges do not offer school-sponsored student health insurance plans. Instead, you can shop for a plan on the federal Health Insurance Marketplace. 

How to Get an Affordable Care Act Plan in South Dakota

South Dakota students can explore coverage options on the federal Health Insurance Marketplace, HealthCare.gov. In 2020, health insurance companies offer plans with monthly premiums from $438 to $659. Depending on your household size and income, you may be eligible to receive a federal subsidy to lower your monthly payment. Use this subsidy calculator to find out how much you can receive. 

You can pick a plan during the Open Enrollment Period, which takes place between November 1 to January 15. Special Enrollment Periods outside this window are available if you experience a significant change in your residence, such as moving to or from college4.

If you decide to purchase an ACA plan, your application will depend on your age and whether your parents claim you as a dependent on their taxes. 

  • Apply with parents

If you are under age 26 and are staying within your state, you will apply with your parents5.

  • Apply by yourself

You will apply individually if you are over age 26 or attending an out-of-state school. 

If you are a dependent, the income listed on your application will include both your income and that of your parents. If no one claims you as a dependent, only your income will be listed.

How to Get Covered Through Medicaid or CHIP in South Dakota?

Medicaid is a state-run program that provides free or low-cost health coverage to low-income children and families, pregnant women, the disabled, and the elderly6. The Child Health Insurance Program (CHIP) provides expanded health coverage for children up to age 19.

Both Medicaid and CHIP are only available to South Dakota residents. Eligibility is based on household size and income. Visit the South Dakota Department of Social Services’ online system for more information and to enroll. 

What Are Other Options for Coverage in South Dakota?

You may be eligible for a catastrophic health plan if you are under age 30, have a special hardship or are unable to afford a traditional Marketplace plan. Catastrophic policies have lower premiums than Marketplace plans. Deductibles are much higher, however. This means the out-of-pocket costs for these plans will be higher.

Catastrophic plans are offered through the ACA marketplace and will appear among your choices if you meet the eligibility requirements.

Short-term health insurance provides gap coverage for limited periods of time. In South Dakota, insurers offer plans limited to 12 months with an option to renew up to 36 months7. Short-term plans are a low-cost option for students; however, they may not cover the ACA essential health benefits or preexisting conditions. 

What Are Resources for South Dakota Students?

The best health insurance resources for students in South Dakota are:

Next Steps 

Preparing for college can be exciting and overwhelming. Make sure to set aside time to find out your options for South Dakota health insurance and compare costs and coverage. By choosing the best plan, you’ll protect your health and your financial future.



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  1. HealthCare.com. “What’s Your Type? HMOs, PPOs and Other Health Insurance Networks.” healthcare.com (accessed April 17, 2021).

  2. U.S. Department of Labor. “Young Adults and the Affordable Care Act: Protecting Young Adults and Eliminating Burdens on Businesses and Families FAQs.” dol.gov (accessed April 17, 2021).

  3. South Dakota Board of Regents. “Policy manual. Student insurance.” sdbor.edu (accessed April 17, 2021)

  4. HealthCare.gov. “Enroll in or change 2021 plans – only with a special enrollment period.” healthcare.gov (accessed April 17, 2021).

  5. HealthCare.gov. “In school? Student health plans & other options.” healthcare.gov (accessed April 17, 2021).

  6. South Dakota Department of Social Services. “South Dakota Department of Social Services.” www.dss.sd.gov (accessed April 17, 2021).

  7. South Dakota Department of Labor & Regulation. “Administrative Rule 20:06:39:34.02. Renewability of short-term major medical plans.” dlr.sd.gov (accessed April 17, 2021).