Finding health care for students

Different plans can be a bit confusing for those looking to get insured

By Brittany Hackett

Allison Denman is graduating this semester and has no idea what she’ll do about health insurance.

“I’m just hoping nothing happens to me until I find a job and I hope that they cover me,” Denman said. “It’s naive, but I don’t really worry about that stuff like I should. I just think it’ll all work out.”

Denman said she knows that she can remain on her parents’ insurance plan for a while after she graduates, but admits that she has not done any research to find new coverage on her own.

“I know I only have to pay $20 each time I go to the doctor or dentist, no matter how much the visit costs. It’s the same with ER visits,” Denman said. “I also know that you have to find a doctor that accepts your insurance.”

According to Jean Winner, an independent agent with Chip William and Associates, contracted with Blue Cross Blue Shield of Florida, if students’ parents are part of a group policy, they are removed from that policy between ages of 23 and 25. If it’s an individual policy, the students are removed for the policy as young as 19.

Winner also said many college students, both graduated and enrolled, do not find their own policies when they are removed from their parents’.

“A lot of times they’re not coming out and getting insurance on their own because of the premiums,” Winner said. “It’s a cost they’re not really looking to spend.”

According to Blue Cross Blue Shield’s Web site, there are almost 4 million college students in the United States without health insurance.

Winner said insurance groups are beginning to offer plans for single students with individual rates that are “more reasonable” in cost than in previous years.

After conducting a quick search of Blue Cross Blue Shield’s insurance plans, Winner said that for a 22-year-old, non-smoking female living in St. Johns County, a basic insurance plan would cost the student $101 per month with a $1,500 deductible.

She said that when a plan has a higher deductible, the monthly rates would be lower. With a $2,500 deductible, the same plan would cost $91 per month and would cover visits to family doctors and specialists, as well as a prescription drug card.

According to Winner, a good plan for college students would be a plan with a higher deductible, co-pays for doctor visits and some sort of coverage for prescription drugs.

She also advises students to “pay attention to what’s in the policy,” especially to the premiums and what’s affordable for their budget. They also should be aware of policy limitations, such as the number of visits a student can make to a doctor in a year.

“There are plans with a limitation that you can’t go to the doctor 12 times in a year or 50 times in a year, it doesn’t matter,” Winner said. “You really want to pay attention to that because sometimes you’ll go in there with a really low premium cost with certain companies. You’ll get what you pay for.”

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