Borrowing From The Future- College Tuition & Hidden Healthcare Fees
Education and healthcare are undoubtedly two of the most expensive things in the U.S. According to US News, for the 2019-2020 school year, it costs on average $41,426 to attend a private university and $27,120 to attend a public university in America.
But tuition is not the only expensive thing students are paying. According to an article by the Huffington Post, universities are enrolling students automatically into insurance plans that can cost up to 10% of the annual tuition.
A $4,000 annual student health plan may seem inconsequential. But after a decade with a 5% interest rate, it could turn into a $26,000 debt for every four-year college graduate.
We decided to write this article as a comprehensive guide for college parents and students to 1/ better understand student health insurance options, 2/ how to save costs, and 3/ learn more about alternatives. We are also available to help you navigate for free if you have a question, email us at [email protected]
Is health insurance required when going to college?
Yes, many private colleges and even public universities require students to have health insurance. Colleges will usually market their own sponsored health insurance, and many will automatically enroll incoming students into their insurance plan.
While students can take out more loans to pay for this expense, it often results in thousands of dollars added on top of the already-expensive college experience.
How much is a student health plan through a private or public college?
According to the American College Health Association, the average student health insurance plan costs between $1500 and $2500 per year. In terms of private vs. public schools, the prices don’t differ as much as you might expect.
Stanford has one of the most expensive health insurance packages at $5208 per year. For NYU, the cost for healthcare is $3518 per year and at Columbia, a student would pay $3676 for insurance.
Public schools like UCLA and Ohio State University have health insurance that is higher than the average, at $2605 and $3366 respectively. The health insurance cost for each school varies, so it’s important to research the fees for the specific school.
Can you opt out of a student health plan?
Yes. College-sponsored insurance plans can be expensive, but you can opt out of the sponsored coverage by submitting a waiver. Waivers are found on the student health website at all universities, they can be hard to find sometimes and you might have to ask.
There is a deadline to submit the waiver every semester. If approved, you will get credited back the amount paid for the plan in your tuition statement.
How does a waiver work? When are the deadlines?
Most college health insurance waivers have to be submitted every year the student is enrolled. They also have specific requirements, and a deadline to submit by.
Generally, to qualify for a waiver, you must have existing coverage (health insurance). This coverage can come from your parent’s health plan, your international health insurance, or any other coverage you currently have.
These requirements and deadlines vary by school and can usually be found on the university’s website:
If you are already covered via your parent’s health plan, you can file for a waiver with the college health center.
If you are an international student and you already have coverage via something like a GeoBlue plan, you could possibly use that to file for an exemption.
If you are on Medicaid, you could also use this as a reason to file for an exemption.
If you have no coverage through your family and have been enrolled into a student health plan, you can check to see which plan you have. If your plan is too expensive, you can downgrade to the most basic plan possible to save costs.
Health events do happen, it is important to have coverage in your area, if urgent care, STD tests, and prescriptions are what you need, Mira could help you get these health services for $25/month without any claims submitted to your insurance or parent’s plan.
What if you have coverage, but there is nothing in network where you go to school?
This is one of the most common scenarios. According to the Affordable Care Act, individuals can stay on their parent’s health insurance plan until they are 26, even if they go away to school, however, most health insurance plans distinguish between in-network and out-of-network care which could be an issue if the child is living in a different state than the parents.
While there may not be clinics in network near the college, most emergency situations are covered both in and out of network. Buying into a student health plan is always option but is also very expensive.
One solution is to get Mira. Mira is a supplemental plan that covers doctor visit, lab (STD + blood tests), and prescriptions at affordable copays - 2X less than what you usually have to pay even with insurance. Mira only costs $25/mo and you can add Mira on top of your existing parent insurance. You can check out Mira coverage here.
By adding Mira, you can avoid double paying for two health insurance at the same time. With a $300 investment a year in Mira, you will save on average $4000 in added health isurance cost and $1300 in out of pocket costs in healthcare.
To learn more about health coverage for after you turn 26, check out our article: