College and Beyond: What Do I Do About Health Insurance?

At a time when your family already has to struggle with the complexity and cost of sending you off to college it may not seem like the best time to think about what  health insurance coverage is available for you. While it may seem to be something that could be put off until things get settled, it is important to ensure your coverage is in place in the event of emergency while at school. Many times, students can be covered under their parent’s plan as long as they are not married and under the age of 24. But you may still need to look at your policy to make sure it provides adequate coverage for you when you venture off to higher education.

Make Sure You Know How Your Student’s Health Will Be Covered

At what age will a child “fall off” of your parent’s health insurance? This will vary by insurer and by state law, so make sure you and your parents know how long you will be covered.
Does the family health insurance plan rely on a local network? If you belong to a PPO or HMO, it may be local. If you leave the county or state to attend another school, can you still use your policy? Even if you will still be covered, you may have to get “out of network” coverage which means that out of pocket costs will be much greater.
Student health centers may reduce the amount of coverage a student will need, but cannot be relied on for all medical needs. For one thing, they may be closed during vacations and breaks. More importantly, most student health care centers are only set up to handle minor health issues, and all serious health problems or health emergencies would be transferred to a private hospital.
Graduate students, or older students, may very well be over the age that will be covered on their parent’s family plan, and so student health insurance plans can provide security that health insurance will not lapse.
If you plan to travel overseas as part of their education, you may even need to look into international student’s health insurance.

College Student Health Insurance Rates are Low

You will be pleasantly surprised to learn that many major insurers offer student health insurance at a very reasonable rate. They can afford to offer lower premiums because, as a rule,college students are fairly cheap to cover.

College age people are, of course, a younger and healthier population than the general population.
Student health centers do handle minor health problems, and so student health insurance may only have to cover more rare situations.

Other College Student Health Insurance Considerations

Many college student health insurance plans also allow a covered person to renew it if they do not find a job right after they graduate. In some cases, a graduate may land a job, but group health will not begin until a few months have passed.  A policy that can provide coverage during this gap between school and group health insurance can be very valuable.

Some students may need to take a break in their education because of a family problem or the need to work for awhile to save money. If a job does not include health insurance, many student health insurers will also allow the covered person to retain their coverage during this time if other eligibility requirements are met.
What If You Do Not Find A Job With Group Health Right After Graduation?

Of course, many college students graduate without an immediate job prospect. It may also happen that as a recent graduate you may end up with a job with a smaller company that does not offer a group health benefit. If there is no student or family health insurance to cover the gap, here are some steps to take to find coverage.

If you have an income, look into individual major medical plans. For younger and healthier people, these policies should still be affordable.
If  you have a preexisting health condition that makes them unable to qualify for individual health, look into the state’s high risk health insurance plan. Every state has one, but they differ. The state insurance department or a qualified local health insurance agent should be able to help you.
If you have little or no income, you may qualify for a federal, state, or county health program. Your state department of Health and Human Resources may be a good place to start finding out about local options.

How To Find Student and Graduate Health Insurance

Student health insurance and individual health insurance plans vary by state and health insurance company and thus it is necessary to look into what is available in your site. Make sure you take some time to compare your choices.

This post was written by Barbara Waltz one of the founders of, an insurance blog and insurance quote comparison guide.


  1. I am 39 . I wish to know , which is the best health insurance plan for self, wife and 2 kids, which may cover about all major illness and hospitalisation.

  2. Choosing the right insurance plan for you is very important… It is a very tough decision indeed but some schools offers insurance plan best for their students and even at a very affordable deal. Anyway, you have presented a very informative article such a great help. Thanks for sharing such informative idea with us.