When you're healthy and rarely visit the doctor it's easy to forget how important health insurance is until you actually need to use it. Minor injuries and emergency room visits can cost a lot to a college student on a budget. But one important point that most students forget is that they have more options than the average person when it comes to getting health coverage.
Going without coverage is never a good idea, and your school may require you to have some form of coverage. What health insurance options are available to Virginia students?
Stay on Parent's Plan - if you are a fulltime student, you may be eligible to remain on your parent's plan. It is easier since your parents will be handling the bills, but if you go to school out-of-state, your coverage levels may not be as robust as they would be in your home state. Also, your parent's health insurance could be more expensive than other coverage options.
School Sponsored Plan - Some colleges offer their own health plan. Some common concerns with these plans is that they may not cover services off-campus or you can lose eligibility if you are a part-time student. Check to see if your school offers a health plan for its students.
Student Health Plan - These plans are for full-time students typically between 17-29 years old. The major advantage with this plan is that the coverage will travel with you wherever you go in the US. However, it may require you to pay your premium in a single lump-sum amount and it is not available in every state.
Individual and Family Plans - You can also purchase an individual and family health plan. Individual and family health insurance is a type of health insurance coverage that is made available to individuals and families and offers a range of coverage benefits depending on the actual plan you select.
Federal Health reform law states that after September 23, 2010, children are allowed to stay on their parents' insurance plan until age 26, whether or not they are enrolled in school. Certain states may have additional rules determining dependency eligibility. Check with the Virginia State Department of Insurance or your parents' insurance carrier.
Some Virginia colleges and universities may require that students to have some form of health insurance coverage. You should check with the admissions office to determine if health insurance coverage is required.
Whatever you decide, make sure the plan is right for your health care needs.