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University Health Insurance Plans

by Mark A. Dunn

Do You Know What You're Really Getting?

With all the excitement of your child going back to college or starting his or her first year, you have plenty to worry about -- from financing to who is bringing the refrigerator for the dorm room. Health insurance is often an afterthought, but it should actually be near the top of your list. The impact of an accident or serious illness could be financially devastating.

College-offered health plans

Most college health plans provide only very basic coverage. These plans are not intended to cover major emergencies or hospitalizations. Student Health Insurance programs very widely depending on the college and insurance provider. You should thoroughly review the university health insurance plan offered to your student.

My daughter is an incoming freshman at a local collage and it was mandatory to purchase the “College’s Health Plan,” even though we already have health insurance on her. The cost was only $125 per semester but it is still another unneeded expense. Upon reviewing the plan, I found the maximum benefit is $5000. That amount would not get you far in the event of an accident or a hospitalization. If you find yourself in a similar situation you may want to consider a high deductible plan to cover medical expenses above $5000.

Understanding plans: Ask questions

You need to comparison shop for health insurance; but if you’re like most people, comparing insurance plans, coverage levels, and premiums isn’t always as easy at it seems. Do your home work. Most importantly, do not be shy about asking questions. Making the wrong health insurance purchasing decision could have a financial impact for many years to come.

I have put together a list of basic questions that should help you make the right decision when comparing and purchasing student health insurance.

  1. Can the student health plan be carried year around?
  2. If we live out of state, will the plan also have network coverage while your child is at home?
  3. What is the maximum benefit that the plan will pay?
  4. Am I restricted to what doctor or hospitals I can use? If yes, how large is the network?
  5. What is the deductible? In network? Out of network?
  6. What is my maximum out of pocket cost, including the deductible? In network? Out of network?
  7. Do I have a co-pay for doctor visits? If yes, does the co-pay only cover the office visit charge?
  8. Does the plan offer any wellness benefits?
  9. Does the plan have a prescription drug benefit? If yes, does it have a separate deductible?
  10. If I have a medication I take more that 3 months of the year, does the plan offer a discount if I purchase the drugs through its mail order pharmacy?

The above questions are only a basic guideline for you to follow when evaluating a health insurance plan. Remember, don’t be shy when shopping for a health insurance plan: ask plenty of questions!

Compare plans from several different companies; don’t contact only one company. If your student needs coverage year around, don’t get hooked on just considering only "student health insurance" plans. Consider individual health insurance as well; the cost may be more, but the plans will usually offer more benefits options. Your child could also keep the individual plan through college and until they get their first job that provides health benefits.

Going abroad for studies

If you are planning to study abroad you will need to obtain additional insurance coverage.  Most health insurance plans will not cover you while you are studying outside of the country.

Copyright 2006 Ohio Health Insurance Options

By Mark A Dunn
Ohio Health Insurance Options