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  • Steven Corn

Advice from a Patient Advocate: It's Time To Rethink Medical Coverage For Your College Student

The Fall semester for colleges and universities is fast approaching. For my two college kids, it is starting on August 15th. Not only does that mean that you have to stock up on Command Strips. It is also a perfect time to rethink their medical insurance coverage.

I have always had a gold PPO plan for my family's coverage because they all have special needs. It is very comforting to have control of which doctors to use. Feeling that I had a good plan, I quickly dismissed the student health insurance programs (SHIP) that were being offered by the colleges. I assumed that they had to be inferior to my current (and very expensive) health insurance coverage. But when I examined them more closely, I had a pleasant surprise.

Under my current plan, I have a 20% co-insurance (typical of gold plans). One of the SHIP plans had a 10% co-insurance and the other only 5%! Both had no deductibles (like my current plan) and utilized the full PPO networks of Anthem or UnitedHealthCare. Co-pays were less and so were prescriptions. The coverage is year-round i.e., no gaps during school breaks. Plenty of providers locally for when they come home for the holidays.

And the kicker is...these plans are cheaper than including them on my family plan. One plan was 10% cheaper (per month). The other was 50% less expensive!

And the icing on the cake relates to out-of-state college students. It's very difficult for physicians to prescribe certain controlled substances across state borders. This often requires picking up a printed prescription and mailing it (no scans accepted). This can create delays especially when the need is urgent. (My daughter had a very bad experience with this after moving to another state.) Using a SHIP means that the doctors will be local to the student. Problem solved!

Some SHIP plans may not be suitable for your needs. But it is certainly worthwhile to be certain. Take some time to do the math. If you need help, contact me. You could be as pleasantly surprised as I was.

P.S. - If you have an ACA plan, a change in coverage is a qualifying event that will allow you to remove your students from your plan. Just make sure that there is not a gap in coverage.

P.P.S. - Oh yeah...Most SHIP plans count as essential "Minimal Essential Coverage" under the current healthcare tax laws.

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