Choosing a College Health Insurance Plan


For parents, summer is the ideal time to ensure college students are prepared academically and financially for campus life. From selecting courses to buying textbooks, there are a number of decisions to be made; however, one important decision—health insurance—is often overlooked. As part of the college preparation process, Aetna encourages parents to also consider their student’s health insurance options before heading off to school.

Parents may be surprised to learn that many employer-sponsored plans stop covering dependents at either age 19 or 23. Without health insurance, unexpected illnesses, injuries, chronic diseases and other health issues could force students to drop out of college or incur large debts, potentially ending their academic careers.

In response to this, many colleges and universities offer customized health insurance and benefits programs to students. Institution-endorsed plans can provide cost-effective access to care and help protect students’ college careers and financial well-being. Often times, the cost of these plans can be built into the tuition and fees, making payment easier. In addition, institution-endorsed plans are effective for the entire school calendar year, including the summer months. This information is particularly beneficial to exiting seniors who will continue to have coverage through the summer following graduation.

“We support the efforts of colleges and universities to ensure students have access to affordable, quality health care,” said Kate Begley, head of Aetna Student Health.

“At Aetna, we work closely with campus health and counseling centers, as well as community and travel service providers, to offer students access to convenient care at an affordable price, no matter where they are located.”

Whether a student is attending college for the first time or returning to campus for another year, Aetna has some tips for parents to consider when selecting a student health insurance plan:
    •    Weigh the difference of carrying a dependent on your plan with the benefits of a school plan. For example, will your plan cover a non-emergency?
    •    Evaluate the access to care for a typical student that is traveling to school, home, participating in travel abroad programs, medical rotations or internships – a portable plan with national and international coverage is essential.
    •    Identify a health contact on campus and review the school’s website and literature, as well as visit the campus health center.
    •    Understand the school’s health insurance requirements and plan provisions, including specific annual and other benefit limits and exclusions. Talk with the school health insurance staff for guidance.
    •    Look at your plan to see what health and wellness resources they provide and compare them to what is available at the campus health center

“Choosing a student health insurance plan that is right for your child is a personal decision and one that should be examined carefully, particularly in today’s uncertain economy,” said Begley. “Evaluating the true cost, meaning the premium plus out-of-pocket expenses, of a family plan versus a student health plan is critical to understanding which plan is most cost-effective and will best serve the needs of your college student.”

About Aetna
Aetna is one of the nation’s leading diversified health care benefits companies, serving approximately 37.2 million people with information and resources to help them make better informed decisions about their health care. Aetna offers a broad range of traditional and consumer-directed health insurance products and related services, including medical, pharmacy, dental, behavioral health, group life and disability plans, and medical management capabilities and health care management services for Medicaid plans. Our customers include employer groups, individuals, college students, part-time and hourly workers, health plans, governmental units, government-sponsored plans, labor groups and expatriates.  For more information, see and Aetna’s Annual Report.


Image courtesy of glenmcbethlaw

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