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Tennessee Student Health Insurance Options | Healthcare Coverage and Plans

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

Even if you’re in good health, insurance can help in emergency situations.

More affordable options include catastrophic or short-term plans. 

You can stay on your parent’s insurance plan or buy your own.

What Are Health Insurance Options for Tennessee Students?

As you get ready to go to your college or university in the Volunteer State, have you made plans for health insurance? You may not think you need healthcare coverage in Tennessee, but insurance can be important. Take some time to learn about what’s available to you.

Why Do Tennessee Students Need Health Insurance?

You may not be worried about health insurance if you’re young and healthy. According to the U.S. Census, in 2019 an average of 14.3% of 19-year-olds was uninsured.1 But serious illnesses or accidents can happen when you least expect them, and it’s better to be prepared. A medical emergency could leave you with big debts that follow you after graduation. In addition, many schools require health insurance coverage in order for you to enroll. 

What to Consider When Searching for Student Health Coverage in Tennessee?

Do you live in Tennessee? In-state students may have an easier time staying on their parents’ insurance than out-of-state students. Here are a few more factors to look at:

  • Can you be claimed as a dependent? If your parent or guardian is claiming you as a dependent, you can stay on their health plan until you’re 26 years old.
  • Will you stay on your parents’ plan or enroll in your own? You could save money on your parents’ plan, but you only qualify for Affordable Care Act (ACA) subsidies if you buy your own plan. 
  • Which plans are cheaper? It depends on what medical services you expect to use. If you need regular doctor visits or prescriptions, you might pick a plan with more benefits and a higher per-month cost. If you only need coverage for emergencies, look at lower-cost plans that don’t cover as much. 
  • Which plans offer the best coverage? Plans that follow ACA guidelines tend to be the most comprehensive, since they’re required to offer certain benefits.
  • Should you skip health insurance? You’d save money on monthly premium costs, but you could end up paying a lot more after a serious illness or injury. 
  • What are health insurance rules in Tennessee? Short-term health plans in Tennessee follow the federal guidelines of a 364-day initial plan that can be renewed for up to 36 months. There’s no penalty for being uninsured in Tennessee.  

Pay With Student Loans

If you get health insurance through your school, you can use your student loans to pay the monthly costs.

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

If you’re under 26, you can be covered under your parents’ plan. 

You can stay on your parents’ coverage whether you’re an in-state or out-of-state student. If you’re from out-of-state, make sure your parents’ plan covers network providers near your school, so you pay in-network rates for services. 

If your parents’ plan is through the federal Health Insurance Marketplace, they can add you during the annual Open Enrollment Period or during a Special Enrollment Period if you qualify. If their plan is through an employer, they can add you during that plan’s Open Enrollment Period or Special Enrollment Period. 

How Do You Get Covered Under Your School Plan in Tennessee?

Check if your school requires health insurance for enrollment. Some schools offer their own health plans, or provide coverage through a private insurer. You can apply your student loans toward these costs. 

The University of Tennessee offers a Student Health Plan through UnitedHealthcare for students taking six or more undergraduate credit hours or three or more graduate credit hours. Students should go to the Student Health Center first for treatment. The plan, with a $2,208 annual premium, offers prescription drug and option dental and vision coverage. 

Tennessee State University isn’t currently offering a health plan for U.S. students, but it suggests they compare health insurance policy options at the Tennessee Board of Regents’ Student Health Insurance Exchange

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

Health insurance plans that meet ACA requirements cover “essential benefits” like maternity care, hospitalization and mental health care. They also can’t reject you or charge you more for preexisting conditions like diabetes or asthma. 

You can apply for ACA plans in Tennessee online through the federal Health Insurance Marketplace or work with a licensed insurance broker. If you earn 400% or less of the federal poverty level, you can apply for federal subsidies that lower your monthly cost. You need to go through the Marketplace if you want to apply for subsidies. 

How Do You Get Covered Through Medicaid or CHIP in Tennessee?

Tennessee’s Medicaid program, called TennCare Medicaid, offers low- or no-cost health coverage for Tennessee residents with low income or disability. The state Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), known as CoverKids, offers free, comprehensive coverage for residents 18 years and younger whose families earn too much to qualify for Medicaid. Apply for either program through TennCare Connect.

State Help for Premiums

You might qualify for healthcare assistance from Medicaid or CHIP.

What Are Other Options for Coverage in Tennessee?

If you are under 30 or qualify for an exemption, you can apply for a catastrophic health plan. These usually offer low monthly premiums with a high deductible, meaning you have to pay more out-of-pocket for services. They may be better for emergency coverage. 

Short-term policies are also an option. Short-term health insurance in Tennessee can last up to 364 days initially and are renewable for up to 36 months. These plans can cost less than traditional health plans, but aren’t required to follow ACA guidelines or cover preexisting conditions. 

What Are Resources for Tennessee Students?

The federal Marketplace site offers tips and suggestions on health insurance options.2 Check the Tennessee Department of Health for information on healthcare and medical facilities.

Next Steps

If you’ve decided to get a health insurance policy in Tennessee, compare your options so you can pick the best plan for your needs and budget. That way, you can sign up before you leave for school.

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  1. U.S. Census Bureau. Uninsured Rates Highest For Young Adults Aged 19 to 34. Accessed March 8, 2021.

  2. U.S. Government Website for the Federal Health Insurance Marketplace. In school? Student health plans & other options. Accessed March 23, 2021.