Insurance coverage

Preparing for college this fall? Don’t forget health insurance

As senior graduates in Massachusetts and the United States carve out their immediate future, they are being reminded to make health insurance a priority.

Experts have pointed out that there is a range of options for college-aged students to consider.

Louise Norris, Chartered Broker and Website Analyst assurancesanté.org, said the Affordable Care Act has allowed more people to be covered as they transition into adulthood, primarily because dependents can remain on a parent’s insurance plan until at 26 years old.

What Norris calls “the invincibility factor” may still hamper those without cover right now. “It’s always been a challenge to convince someone who is young and healthy that spending money on health insurance is worth it,” Norris explained. “And that was a problem before the ACA. It’s always a problem for some people, you know, depending on their situation.

For low-income students, she said Medicaid could be an option. For those who remain on their parents’ plan but go to school in another state, restrictions on out-of-network providers could limit coverage.

Colleges and universities usually offer packages regulated by the ACA. Massachusetts law requires that, for such plans, students be enrolled in at least 75% of the full-time program.

Norris added that whichever option families choose, it’s best not to procrastinate and let coverage gaps show up. “If you choose not to enroll and a health issue arises, you cannot just go out and enroll in health insurance at that time,” Norris warned. “There are limited registration windows.”

Other analysts have noted that not being covered could lead to significant medical debt on top of tuition and other expenses. Norris pointed out that while some programs have limited enrollment windows, there are exceptions for people going through a transition, such as moving, and schools will communicate enrollment dates for their sponsored health plans.

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