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If you’re preparing to send your child off to college soon, you’re probably focused on squeezing in some last-minute family time and picking up all the necessary dorm gear. Here’s one other thing to add to your list: Research his or her health insurance options.
Many colleges offer their own health insurance plan to students, and some will automatically enroll students who don’t opt out by showing proof of alternative insurance. About 10 percent of students get their health insurance through their school, according to the American College Health Association, an industry group.
The school plan may make sense for some students, but if you have family health insurance, the better option may be to keep your student on it if he or she is under 26. A third choice that might be worth exploring for students in certain situations would be to purchase a personal plan via the healthcare exchanges.
“The most important thing is to make sure your student has a comprehensive plan that’s going to be there for them when they need it,” says Erin Hemlin, director of training and consumer education with Young Invincibles, a youth advocacy group in Washington, D.C.
Here’s what you need to know about each option.
The Family Health Plan
There are many benefits to keeping your child on your own health insurance. This way, your student may be able to keep her primary care doctor and schedule visits when she’s home on break.
The cost could also be lower than signing on for a college plan, especially if you have other children also on the plan. Keeping a student on the family health plan may also mean his spending will count toward the family deductible instead of toward an additional deductible.
If your child is going far away to school, the drawback to staying on the family plan is that doctors she may have to see will most likely be considered out-of-network. But for most students, that…