How Do I Cover My Child with Health Insurance Until They Get a Job?

Whether your child is going off to college this fall or graduating in the spring, you’ve likely considered how you can make sure they get proper health insurance. Although most young adults don’t prioritize having access to healthcare, they also don’t know the cost of a trip to the urgent care clinic for a strep throat infection, or a broken wrist from a bike accident.

Fortunately, this is one concern you can address well in advance, and you have a couple good options to make sure your kids get (and keep) a decent medical plan.


Coverage for the College-Bound


If your child is headed off to college, congrats on (mostly) getting them out of your house and out of the fridge! But health insurance is one area you shouldn’t be too hasty to push them out of the nest. Thanks to the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare) your employer health plan is required to let you keep your kids covered until they turn 26.

For most parents, that means continuing to cover your child until he/she is done with college. There is one task you’ll want to do before the first day of class—verify where and how your student should access healthcare if needed. Many larger colleges and universities have an on-campus student health center, and you should check out their website (or ask your admissions rep) for confirmation of which health plans are accepted.

While you’re at it, check how your coverage handles out-of-network claims, what are you expected to pay? Usually health plans offer a tool to verify clinic and hospital coverage. This is especially important if your student is going to school in a different state. You don’t want a big surprise bill after your child gets the flu and picks an out-of-network clinic to visit (if there are other clinics available).


University-Provided Health Insurance


Many larger universities still offer a student health plan and it may be a good option for your circumstances. This will be highly dependent on both your current premiums and coverage under your existing health plan, and what the university is able to offer.

In some cases, like the coverage offered by the University of Iowa, the plan is a fantastic deal with good coverage and low rates. For $190 per month in the 2017-18 school year, the student is covered with a really low deductible ($300) and small or no co-pays for most services. The one catch is that most of the services should be accessed at the U’s student health center. Still, this is great coverage for students!

As a parent, you should verify that your family coverage is a better deal, and it may make sense to drop your student from coverage while they are in school (and add them back later after graduation).


Options for After Graduation


Once your student graduates, you have several choices to make. If he/she is still under 26, you can place them back on your family coverage, usually during an open enrollment period. This is often the best option for the typical graduate as they try to find work and get the rest of their post-college life started.

The great thing about the “under-26” coverage rule is that your child can stay on your plan through pretty much any life event: getting married, having a child, starting school again, living with you or moving out, and even if he/she turns down coverage from an employer! This is good news for parents who have high-quality medical insurance—your child can stay on the plan until 26.

But what do you do if you don’t have your own good health insurance or if your child is 26 or older and doesn’t have insurance offered through a job? Then it’s time to consider two options:

  • See if you can extend the university health insurance. Going back to our University of Iowa example, departing students can stay on the university plan for one year after leaving. That’s a useful choice for kids just starting out on the job market!
  • Jump into the Marketplace plans. Your child will find out if they qualify for a premium subsidy on their taxes, or for a state Medicaid plan. Another option most people aren’t aware of is Catastrophic insurance. It’s a less expensive option geared towards people under 30. The coverage is pretty basic, but this is insurance for a reason. They’ll be covered in the case of an accident or major medical problem, and often the plans have some preventative coverage, as well. The site will provide all of this information and quotes when your child signs up.


Your student isn’t going to prioritize health insurance in the myriad life changes they’re going through now! But as a good parent, you can help guide them through this necessary step by considering your options for both in-college and after-graduation coverage. There are good ways to make sure your child is adequately covered, and if you need any help walking through the choices, give me a call!



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College education is expensive – and most parents feel lost when it comes to saving effectively. Having a proactive college plan will help to ease the burden of college expenses. This checklist is designed to help you get organized, so you can get in front of the hefty college costs facing you and your child!

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