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College Coverage vs. The Exchange

Author: Venus Dean-Bullinger    Posted: April 20, 2015

When my husband and I sent our two children away to college a few years ago, we didn’t have to worry about medical insurance.  They were both covered under their father’s company plan until the age of 26.  Unfortunately, all college bound students aren’t so lucky.  So, what options are available if a child doesn’t have coverage under a parents plan?

Many parents aren’t aware that colleges and universities offer medical plans to students, and many of them are equivalent to ‘gold’ or ‘platinum’ level plans at a ‘bronze’ level price.  In other words, great benefits at a reasonable price.  What’s more, the premium can be bundled into your child’s tuition.  Pretty nice not to have to worry about a separate payment.

However, several colleges and universities have recently chosen to get out of the health insurance business and the Affordable Care Act is there to provide alternatives.  Some students are finding they may be able to save money with coverage outside of the college/university offerings through the Health Exchange.  Many experts are divided on whether this change will be good or bad for students, but most agree it’s nice to have options.  Something to keep in mind when shopping for coverage for your student is that the Washington State Health Exchange ( Healthplanfinder), will only allow the premium tax subsidy to be used inside the Exchange.  The Affordable Care Act will not allow a subsidy to be used for the student’s college/university offered plan.

It’s important to keep in mind that even though the rates may be less because of your child’s income and subsidy, the benefits may not be quite as rich as a plan offered by a college or university.  Furthermore, make sure that you follow the rules and guidelines when helping your child apply for insurance through Healthplanfinder.  You certainly don’t want to be saddled paying back a subsidy your child has received in error… paying back student loans is hard enough!

I hope this information helps make sending your students off to college a little less stressful. Of course, we’re always here to help.

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