It is that time of year when students are going off to college or graduate school and need to figure out to how to meet their health needs while they are in school. I discuss the options below and things to consider for each option.
- Parent’s Health Insurance- This may be a good option for students under age 26. If their parents can afford it, they can continue to stay on their parent’s health plan. If the student is going to a state school, this would work. However, if the student is going to school out of state, this could be a problem because many health insurance plans are state-specific and, the in-network doctors may be limited to a few near the parent’s hometown. Students headed out of state may need to additional options especially if the student has chronic health conditions that require regular appointments while in school.
- School Sponsored Insurance- This is a good option if the school has an affordable school sponsored health plan. Unfortunately, not every school has this as an option for their students.
- Medicaid- A student may be able to qualify for free health insurance through Medicaid. The student will need to not be dependent on their parents (based on tax standards) and have an income that is below a certain limit. However, additional rules apply in Texas. In addition to the previously mentioned criteria, a student will need to be disabled to qualify for Medicaid in Texas. This means that most students in Texas will be unable to qualify for Medicaid.
- Catastrophic Health Plans- These plans are available for students under age 30 or who qualify based on certain hardship exemptions. These plans may be a good option for some students. However, the premiums may not be inexpensive. Also, catastrophic plans typically have extremely high deductibles and cover only preventative care so a student with this plan can end up with a lot of out of pocket expenses for Primary or Urgent care.
- Individual Health plan through the Health Insurance Market Place- If a student is not dependent on their parents (based on tax standards), and their income is below a certain level, they may be eligible for a subsidy that could be applied towards the purchase of an Individual health insurance plan through the Health Insurance Market Place. This is a good option for some students. The student would need to be moving out of state for school or losing current coverage in order to qualify to purchase a plan outside of the usual enrollment period.
- Health Share Ministries or Programs- These are organizations in which the members of the organization share in the healthcare costs of their members. They may be a good option for college students as they may be more affordable than traditional insurance. However, like insurance, the premiums depend on the deductible amount selected. Plans with low deductibles are more expensive than those with higher deductibles so a student can end up with a lot of out of pocket expenses for primary care if they select a plan with a high deductible. Also, the programs may require strict adherence with certain religious beliefs or values so they may not be suitable for everyone.
- Direct Primary Care- Direct Primary Care is a model of care where patients pay a low monthly fee to become a member of a direct primary care practice and receive unlimited access to primary care with no co-pays. This is a great option for college students who need inexpensive, regular access to Primary Care as they can receive a lot of care included free with their monthly membership fee. This option is also the most affordable option for students or parents who may be on a budget and cannot afford the cost of any of the options mentioned above. As an example, membership fees for college aged students range from $40-$50 monthly. In addition, many direct primary care practices offer the convenience of video visits, same day in-office visits and texting. Members have access to their doctors even on weekends or when they are out of town. In this way, direct primary care practices work to keep their members out of urgent cares or ERs unless absolutely necessary. If serious health needs arise, direct primary care doctors are experts at finding the lowest cost options for imaging, specialist care, medications, and other things like that. In addition to this, a direct primary care membership can be combined with a catastrophic plan, a parent’s existing health plan or a high deductible health share plan to provide the parent or student with additional peace of mind.
Here at Katy Premier Primary Care, we are now offering discounts on our membership fees for college and graduate students. To learn more about this model of care and find out if we can be an option for you or your student, contact us at (281) 978-2624 or via email at [email protected]