College Students: Get to Know Your Health Plan

According to Forbes, many Millennials don’t understand how health insurance works, where to apply or what’s available to them.

Knowing that a large portion of this group represents people in their early to mid-20s, it’s crucial to educate college students on how to utilize their health coverage during and beyond the school year.

  • Choose the Right Plan: Under the current health law, young adults can be added to, or remain on their parents’ insurance plan, until age 26. For students attending school out of state, many health plans require members to use a network of healthcare providers within the geographic area in which the policy is issued. In these instances, the student(s) should consider purchasing an on-campus health plan or obtaining an outside policy.
    • An on-campus health plan is not a health insurance policy, but is a good source of primary care for students. These plans generally cover the cost of visits to on-campus clinics only and cost around $100 to $200 per semester.
    • Outside policies can be purchased through the private health insurance market. Currently, the Affordable Care Act guarantees coverage to everyone who applies for a policy. However, the details of each policy may vary, so young adults should thoroughly review what their specific policy covers.
  • Prepare the Paperwork: To receive appropriate care, students should have the following documentation in a secure and accessible location:
    • Copy of Health Insurance Card and Medical Credit Card: Before receiving care, students will need to present their insurance card. A copy of this card can be requested by mail, or obtained virtually through provider apps.
    • Health Care Proxy: If a student is injured or unable to communicate health care needs, a health care proxy gives a secondary person the legal authority to provide directions of care to a doctor or health care provider.
    • HIPPA Release: This document allows the contents of a student’s medical record or health information to be shared with specific individuals, such as parents or guardians. It is required by doctors and hospitals even if a student is on their parents’ health insurance plan.
  • Learn Key Terms: Knowing the language behind health insurance can be overwhelming. Consider reviewing some of these common terms before looking at health care options:
    • Premium: A monthly member payment that can vary based on coverage.
    • Deductible: The amount paid out-of-pocket for covered medical services before a health insurance plan starts to share in the cost.
    • Copay: A fixed dollar amount paid for health care services.
    • Explanation of Benefits: Documentation that lists what is paid for by an insurance provider, exclusions and any charges owed for services received.

Dr. Gina Lynem-Walker is a physician consultant and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan provider.

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Photo credit: CollegeDegrees360

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