Health Insurance for College Kids

Some colleges will enroll your child in their sponsored health plan automatically, even if your child is covered under your policy. Others insist that the student have outside coverage. Consumer consultants advise parents to research their options.

Starting in September, parents can keep adult children on their health insurance coverage up to age 26, even if they aren’t college students. For those parents who have children in college, the new law could give them a break if their current plan covers students only up to age 21, as many policies do. But for many parents, negotiating the college health care system can still be baffling.

Please don't bother me about healthcare insurance. I've got a philosophy exam.

Most colleges offer students school-sponsored health coverage and some will enroll your child automatically unless you can prove they have their own coverage. Others will make you use their coverage even if your child is covered under your policy, while others insist that the student have outside coverage. And the problems don’t end there. According to a recent research study, colleges frequently charge students who have their own health care coverage more for routine services than they charge those covered under the school’s health plan.

Consumer consultants advise parents to research options. Find out how the college health care plan works and see if there are off-campus facilities like hospitals and doctors’ offices where the student can go for routine care. Make sure you won’t get buried under layers of fees, such as premiums for a college health care plan when your child is already covered under your insurance.

Don't get buried

While you’re looking into insurance issues, make sure that expensive items that your child brings to college, like a computer or a stereo set-up, is covered by your homeowners insurance. Many policies will not cover theft or damage unless your child is living in a dorm. If your student is in off-campus housing, you may need tenants insurance to cover any potential loss. As for car insurance, if your child doesn’t have a car at school and the campus is more than 100 miles away, you may get a discount on your auto insurance premium.