If you are traditional college student you are probably under 26 years old. This makes health insurance while in college easy! If your parent’s health insurance covers dependents you are able to stay on (or be added to) their plan until you are 26. If you aren’t already on their plan your parent may add you during their insurance plan’s yearly open enrollment or during a special enrollment period. Do check with the plan to be certain you qualify as some states and plans differ, but you likely can stay on until you hit 26. There are other considerations to check on, too. For example, some plans also may consider a student attending an out-of-state school to be out of network, in which case it would be better to explore a student health plan provided by your school. A student health plan may also be less expensive than keeping you on your parent’s employer’s plan.
Most students are able to enroll in a student health plan provided through their school. These are a great way to get affordable basic coverage and generally count as qualifying health coverage under the Affordable Care Act. Princeton, for example, automatically enrolls all graduate students in their student health plan, and gives undergraduate students the option of enrolling (assuming many students are under 26 and still on their parent’s plans). Check with your school to see what they offer. Typically student health plans are affordable and often rolled into tuition payments. They are also intended to work with the student health center on campus, if there is one, which means that you’ll definitely be on an in-network plan.
To find out what plans are available at your school, check with your school or use United Healthcare’s handy Find My School’s Plan tool.
Student health plans aside, if you are under 30, and being on a parent’s plan is not possible or you’ve aged out, there are some options available to you as well. You can purchase your own through Health Insurance Marketplace, which is a federally-run service that help you find and enroll in affordable health insruance. Note that some states run their own Marketplaces. The Marketplace is open during annual open enrollment. Check here for dates of this year’s period: http://obamacarefacts.com/obamacare-open-enrollment/ In order to apply for coverage at the Marketplace you will need to provide income and household information. For those under 30, use the Young Adults Screener to help figure out what options are available and the best fit for you.
It is important to note that under the Affordable Healthcare Act everyone must be covered by some sort of insurance, and students are no exception. If you don’t have coverage you will have to pay a fee on your next tax return. In 2016 the fee was 2.5% of household income or $695 per adult.