As if you didn’t have enough to deal with sending your child away to college this fall! Now there are rumors that a swine flu pandemic may hit full force in September. On-campus clinics are free, but if the flu outbreak lives up to predictions, those resources may be woefully under-staffed to deal with the situation. While you’re packing and planning for college, take a few minutes to review your insurance policy to find out about health insurance for college students, or to look at alternate student medical insurance quotes.
In most instances, as long as your child is a full-time student, you can include him or her as a dependent on your personal health insurance policy, up to the age of 23. Some states have extended this to 25, and in New Jersey, you can cover your kids up to age 31, as long as they don’t get married or have dependent children of their own. If you do elect to carry your child’s student health insurance on your policy, review it carefully, especially if you’re in an HMO or PPO. You want to be sure that your plan has an approved list of health care providers and hospitals near your child’s college, because using an out-of-network provider will run up your costs, or may not even be permitted under the terms of your health insurance policy. If that’s the case, contact your health insurance provider to see if they have any alternatives, or at least some kind of emergency out-of-network care. But in an economy that’s shedding jobs faster than a sheep dog sheds hair in summer, you could find yourself on the unemployment line, with no health insurance at all or an expensive COBRA plan. In that case, you’ll want to look into what your child’s school offers.
Most colleges and universities offer health insurance for college students. Typically, the costs are comparable to what you’d pay for a private student health insurance policy. The coverage, however, may not be comparable. The most notable discrepancies will be in in-plan co-payments, drug coverage, out-of-plan care and maximum benefits paid per condition. Your may also pay more for a private plan if your child has a pre-existing chronic condition. When looking for health insurance for college students online, be sure to do an apples-to-apples comparison rather than just shopping for a cheap student health insurance plan. Whichever way you go with student health insurance, be certain you send your child to school with a copy of his or her health insurance policy and a plan identity card.