Best Health Insurance for College Students
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When you’re young and in school, health insurance is the last of your worries. But as a college student, it’s important that you have coverage in case of emergencies so you’re not saddled with more debt. Young adults have the highest uninsured rate of any group; in fact, about 30% of young adults don’t have insurance coverage, leaving them in jeopardy if they face medical bills.1 The average cost to fix a broken leg is $7,500, while the average cost of a three-day hospital stay is a staggering $30,000. Without health insurance, you’re stuck covering the entire bill on your own.2
When you’re in college, you have multiple options to get health insurance, including coverage from your parents‘ plan or school-offered insurance. But if you don’t have access to those types of policies, you can get coverage on your own. To help you find the best insurance plan for your needs, we examined 17 health insurance options and companies and evaluated them based on plan cost, coverage options, and provider network. These are our selections for the best insurance plans for college students
The 4 Best Health Insurance for College Students in 2022
- Best Overall: Cigna
- Best Short-Term Coverage: Everest
- Best for International Students: IMG
Your best option for health insurance as a college student is Cigna because of its coverage options and cost. Cigna offers competitive premiums and ACA financial assistance is, of course, also available.
- Comprehensive coverage options
- Some students may qualify for premium subsidies
- Free preventative care and low-cost virtual care
- Subsidies may not be available if you’re a dependent
- You may need to find a new healthcare provider
Cigna plans, purchased through its website or Healthcare.gov, always cover pre-existing conditions, and as a college student, you may be eligible for subsidies that make insurance much more affordable. As a student, you likely don’t have much income. If that’s the case, you could qualify for premium subsidies that make your plan more affordable.
Cigna’s plans are divided by tiers, ranging from bronze to platinum policies. Bronze plans are the most affordable, while platinum plans have low deductibles but higher monthly premiums. All of Cigna’s plans include $0 preventative care, so you can get an annual checkup, flu shot, and health screenings without paying extra money. And, Cigna offers low-cost virtual care, allowing you to connect with a board-certified doctor via phone or video chat. Cigna’s comprehensive coverage offers more benefits for less money, making it our overall top choice.
While some students may qualify for subsidies with Cigna, not all college students will. Subsidies are based on your household income. If you’re a dependent and your parents earn too much income, you may not be eligible for a subsidy and will have to pay the full monthly premium.
When you purchase insurance from Cigna, you can choose between HMO plans where you have to stay within the network or PPO plans which give you more flexibility. Depending on what plan you choose, you may have to change healthcare providers. If your current doctor isn’t part of the plan’s HMO, for example, you’ll need a new physician or the insurance won’t cover your office visits.
If you have pre-existing health conditions or regularly need medical care, purchasing insurance from Cigna is the best choice for coverage since you can qualify for significant discounts and get free preventative and low-cost virtual care. It also has a good reputation, with an A (Excellent) rating from AM Best.3
If you’re looking for a short-term insurance policy, consider Everest Insurance. With Everest, you aren’t confined within a fixed provider network, and wellness benefits cover preventative care.
- Low copay and coinsurance options
- Free-look period applies
- Multiple coverage period maximums available
- Does not include prescription drug coverage
- Pre-existing conditions are not covered
- Not available in all states
Short-term insurance policies can be an affordable alternative to traditional health insurance for college students. With a short-term policy, you can get temporary coverage for less than the cost of a private insurance plan.
Everest offers short-term insurance plans with customizable options making it the best choice for short-term coverage. You can choose a deductible ranging from $1,000 to $10,000 and a copay between $40 and $50, helping you adjust your premium to meet your budget. You can also choose your own coverage maximum. Depending on your needs, you can choose a limit of $250,000 to $1.5 million.
However, Everest’s short-term policies have some drawbacks. They do not include prescription drug coverage, vision care, or dental services. If you have a pre-existing condition, your policy will not cover your treatments. Because of these restrictions, Everest’s plans are best for college students who are in good health without ongoing medical needs.
Everest is not available to residents in all states; If you live in a state where Everest doesn’t operate, you’ll have to find another insurer.
Everest has an A+ (Superior) ranking from AM Best, indicating that the company is financially stable and able to meet its contractual obligations.4
Everest is our choice as the best short-term insurer for college students because of its deductible, copay, and coinsurance options, and because it offers wellness and mental health benefits.