Thursday, August 11, 2022

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Preparing for College This Fall? Don't Forget Health Coverage

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Friday, June 3, 2022   

As graduating seniors in Massachusetts and around the U.S. carve out their immediate future, they are reminded to make health insurance a priority.

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

Louise Norris, licensed broker and analyst for the website healthinsurance.org, said the Affordable Care Act has allowed more people to be covered as they transition to adulthood, mainly because dependents can stay on a parent's insurance plan until age 26.

What Norris calls "the invincibility factor" can still get in the way of those who do not have coverage right now.

"It's always been a challenge to convince someone who's young and healthy that spending money on health insurance is worth it," Norris explained. "And that was a problem pre-ACA. It's still a problem for some people, you know, depending on their circumstances."

For low-income students, she said Medicaid could be an option. For those staying on their parent's plan but going to school in another state, restrictions on out-of-network providers could limit coverage.

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

Norris added no matter which option families choose, it is best not to procrastinate and let coverage gaps surface.

"If you choose to not enroll and then a health problem crops up, you can't just go out and sign up for health insurance at that point," Norris cautioned. "There are limited enrollment windows."

Other analysts noted going without coverage could result in a lot of medical debt in addition to tuition and other expenses. Norris emphasized even though certain programs have limited enrollment windows, there are exceptions for people are going through a transition, such as moving, and schools will communicate the sign-up dates for their sponsored health plans.


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Pictured in the center is Francine "Fran" Pace, one of 11 graduates of this summer's Youth Leadership Academy for Iowans with disabilities. (Photo courtesy of DD Council).

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