Do you have adequate healthcare coverage? Under the Affordable Care Act, all college students must be insured with adequate healthcare coverage or they will be forced to pay a hefty fine. If you’re no longer qualified to get coverage under your parents’ insurance, here’s what you need to know about obtaining coverage.
1. See If Your School Has a Student Health Plan
Many colleges have a student health plan program that provides affordable healthcare coverage to enrolled students. In most cases, this will cover your requirements under the Affordable Care Act, protecting you from the penalty. Check with your school to see if this is an option for you.
2. Learn the Discounts
The Affordable Care Act offers discounts for individuals applying for health insurance based on their income levels. As a college student, you may not have much income at all, so you may qualify for reduced or even free coverage. Use this online calculator to input your income and location to see what discounts are available to you.
3. Find a Marketplace Coverage Option
The Affordable Care Act set up the Health Insurance Marketplace at Healthcare.gov that offers the option to shop for coverage through varied health insurance providers qualified to receive healthcare subsidies. Find an appropriate coverage option in your state that fits your budget and apply.
When viewing the various plans, you will need to consider both the monthly cost and the deductible amount. Most plans require you to pay a certain amount out of your own pocket before the insurance coverage will kick in. Determine how much of a deductible you are willing to shoulder, keeping in mind that a high deductible typically means a lower monthly premium amount.
4. Apply for Coverage
The Health Insurance Marketplace offers four application options. The most convenient way is to apply online. Visit healthcare.gov to get started on your application.
If you are having trouble applying online or want to get more information about applications, you can also apply by phone by calling 1-800-318-2596. This process does take you through a number of automated steps.
If you want help applying, the best way to do so is to find a trained counselor in your local community that can help you shop for and then apply for your coverage. Since this is likely your first time applying for coverage, this might be the best option.
Finally, you can apply by filing a paper application. This is not the best option if you have not applied before, as it’s easy to make a mistake on the application process, which could cause delays.
What Happens If You Have No Coverage?
Students who are not properly insured will pay fees as outlined in the healthcare law, and the law has no exemptions for college students. This penalty will be either $695 or 2.5 percent of your income, whichever is higher. This is a large fee, and you can avoid paying it by purchasing health insurance as outlined above.