If you’re enrolled in a student health plan, in most cases it counts as qualifying health coverage.
This means you’re considered covered under the health care law, and won’t have to pay the penalty for not having insurance. Be sure to check with the plan to be sure.
Enrolling in a Marketplace plan instead
Even if you have access to a student health plan, you can apply for coverage (or stay covered) through the Health Insurance Marketplace instead.
If you’re a dependent under 26
Living in the same state as your parents: You can be included on your parent’s application. Your parent can add you during Open Enrollment (or during a Special Enrollment Period, if they qualify). Losing a student health plan may qualify you for a Special Enrollment Period. This way they can add you to their plan outside Open Enrollment. (Voluntarily dropping a student plan doesn’t qualify you for a Special Enrollment Period.)
Living in a different state from your parents: You have two options:
Apply for coverage with your parent or stay on their plan. Before you enroll or decide to stay on a parent’s plan, be sure to read the plan’s coverage documents and review the provider network carefully so you know how the plan covers care delivered in the state you go to school.
Apply yourself in the state you go to school. You may want to do this to enroll in a plan that better meets your needs in the state you go to school. When you fill out your application, note:
You’ll still be included in your parent’s tax household, even though you’re applying separately. They’ll fill out or update their application and state that you don’t need health coverage. Your income will still be counted because Marketplace savings are based on expected income for all tax household members, not just the ones who need insurance.
You’ll do the same: When you fill out your own separate application, state that your parents and the other members of their tax household don’t need health coverage. But you’ll include their income on your application.
The cost of both your plan and your parent’s plan may be reduced with a premium tax credit and extra savings based on the whole household’s income, not just yours.
When you move to or from the place you live and go to school, you may be eligible for a Special Enrollment Period allowing you to enroll outside the yearly Open Enrollment Period.
If you’re a dependent 26 or over
You have the same options as above. But if you apply with your parents, you may be required to choose a separate plan because you’re 26 or older.
If no one claims you as a dependent
And you live separately from your parents (whether in the same state or a different one): You should fill out your own separate application. Your savings will be based only on your income, not your parent’s.
And you live with your parents: You should apply on your own separate application. But if you’re under 21, you may need to provide information about your parents and their income to complete the application.
When asked if you have health coverage, answer «No.» Choose «No» even if you have student health coverage and plan to drop it when you enroll in a Marketplace plan.
Learn more about why it’s worth having insurance and see your options and next steps.
Get covered — or pay a fee
Students who don’t have health insurance may have to pay a fee. There’s no special student exception to the requirement to have health insurance.
Under the health care law, you must have qualifying health coverage or pay a penalty on your next federal tax return.
The penalty is 2.5% of household income or $695 per adult (half of that per child), whichever is higher. The penalty rises yearly with inflation.
Taking new steps. It’s part of growing up. When you’re a college student, the steps may seem to get bigger by the minute.
One of these steps is choosing a health insurance plan. It’s important to find a plan that works with where you are—on campus and in life, so you have the benefits you need when you need them.
Experience lower costs and added benefits
Student health plans can be a valuable solution for college students and their families. Not only can they cost less than other plans – even less than staying on an employer-sponsored family plan – they can also provide better benefits.
Here are some reasons to think about a student health plan .
Lower cost deductibles and premiums.
Comprehensive benefits, including added services not always found with other plans.
Greater access to national and local networks of physicians and behavioral health specialists.
Better coverage for school-sponsored, on-site health clinics and telehealth services.
Student plans come with added benefits because they’re designed with students in mind. Lower rates are possible partly because they’re based on a younger, healthier population and provide coverage for a limited time (just while they’re in school). Families and students can save money – and get high-quality coverage at the same time.
Find out how to get started with a student health plan
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How to choose a health plan when you’re a student.
Looking at all of the options may help you find a solution that works best for your student and your family. Here are the options students can consider.
Student insurance plans
Parents’ employer plans (up to age 26 if dependent coverage is available)
Employer plans (for eligible employed students)
Individual plans through the State or Federal Exchange.
If you’re under the age of 30 (or qualify for a hardship exemption), you can purchase a catastrophic health plan through an Exchange.
Depending on your state, you may qualify for Medicaid.