Colleges Finance

Best Health Insurance for College Students 2024

Health Insurance for College Students

If you’re a college or university student, Health Insurance for College Students is specifically tailored to provide you with coverage during your academic journey.

Injury and medical expenditures should be the least of a student’s concerns at school. However, accidents and illness never occur at convenient times. Fortunately, college and international students have health insurance coverage to cover high medical costs.

Health Insurance for College Students helps university students. Some universities require health insurance, although students covered by their parents may not have to enroll. Your visa determines your health insurance eligibility as an international college student. Consult a school counselor to understand the requirements.

High school and primary school students may benefit from child health insurance. Aflac offers supplemental health insurance for students to help with out-of-pocket costs, but not full coverage.

Should college students get health insurance? Health insurance may be required for college enrollment at some colleges. This varies by university.

Benefits of Health Insurance for College Students

There are a lot of benefits and advantages of having college student health insurance. We have researched and mentioned some of the most common benefits of health insurance for college students. Here are some compelling reasons for parents to consider:

Health Benefits: 

Wellness is essential for academic achievement. Insured students can prevent health issues by using suggested preventive care services and may identify health concerns. Health plans for students provide 100% coverage for preventive care from in-network providers. The main goal of student health insurance is to keep students healthy and in school, enabling them to achieve their life and professional goals.

Cost Benefits: 

College or university student plans frequently offer cheaper benefits than open-market plans. Modern student plans, sometimes called Gold or Platinum, offer the added benefit of coordination with school Student Health Services.

Parents may find it cheaper to purchase a student plan for their child than enrolling them in their employer’s plan, especially if it has a high deductible or lacks in-network providers near campus. Additionally, parents’ dependent coverage premiums sometimes exceed student plan monthly expenditures.

Student health plans often offer a nationwide network of clinicians and pharmacies, ensuring coverage regardless of distance from the university or home. Plans for on-campus treatment coincide with college Student Health Services coverage. Students can receive referrals from the Student Health Service to in-network providers for further or ongoing care.

Several top Insurers provide college students with a Student Assistance Plan (SAP) for 24/7 behavioral health support, addressing stress and other issues that can hinder academic success. Students can call a toll-free number to talk with a licensed clinician or registered nurse for health and wellness guidance.

Colleges can tailor their student health plans to meet their needs, covering various services such as doctor visits, preventive care, prescription drugs, accidental injuries, hospitalization, outpatient surgery, and diagnostics. This strategy is designed for students and collaborates with the Student Health Centre.

Wellness Discounts: 

Many student programs offer discounts on various health and wellness items and services. College students can save on wellness services such as gym memberships, nutrition counseling, dental and vision care, supplements, and books. Many student plans include telemedicine through the best insurance provider for college students.  

Such programs complement the Student Health Centre by offering 24/7 access to board-certified physicians by phone or video when allowed. These are useful for mild ailments such as allergies, sore throats, earaches, and pink eye.

Doctors can prescribe drugs for individual conditions, which can be shipped to your preferred pharmacy. When you have these college student health insurance you are considered as a Member and save time and money by not paying consultation fees, making it practical. 

How do I receive college student health insurance?

International student health insurance can benefit travelers to the US, which does not have universal health care. International students’ visas and states of study may affect accessibility. There are several ways to receive college student health insurance:

1. Health insurance for colleges

Some campuses provide reasonable student health insurance. It depends on your school and its offerings. Consult an advisor about student health insurance. Annual expenditures for a college student are around $2,000–$4,000.

2. Parental employer health insurance: 

If one of your parents has health insurance, you may be added. Typically, children can stay on their parent’s health insurance until 26.  

3. Health insurance by state: 

For those without employment or parental insurance, each state has a health insurance exchange. The exchange is a health insurance marketplace. Medicaid may be useful for low-income college students.

How does student health insurance work?

Student health insurance operates like regular insurance. College students receive perks that lower medical costs for premium payments. Benefits may begin after meeting a deductible or medical treatment amount. Your student health insurance may cover copays, coinsurance, and discounts on doctor visits, prescriptions, and treatments. 

We recommend reviewing your health insurance options because each plan has various rules and limitations.

What does college student health insurance cover?

Traditional and student health insurance may cover similar things. College students may receive several benefits and perks from their college student health insurance. Some of these are mentioned below, let’s have a look: 

  • Mental health care
  • Doctor and hospital visits
  • Prescription drugs
  • Medical gadgets and therapies

We advise you to carefully review each health insurance plan you pick because coverage offered by these insurances may differ. 

Top Health Insurance for College Students

1. GoodRx Health

GoodRx Health
GoodRx Health
  • Overall rating: 4.2
  • AM Best rating: B
  • Availability: not listed 

College and university students can acquire health insurance, and dependents can stay on their parent’s plan until 26. The ACA marketplace covers essential health benefits, pre-existing conditions, and preventive services. 

Uninsured low-income students can get Medicaid or spouse or partner health insurance. Medicare covers the majority of seniors, and some states have individual and household mandates. College students without health insurance may face tax penalties.


  • Access to comprehensive coverage
  • Students can stay on their parent’s health insurance plan 


  • Tax penalties may apply 
  • Limited options and potential gaps in coverage 

2. Blue Cross Blue Shield

Blue Cross Blue Shield
Blue Cross Blue Shield
  • Overall Rating: 4.7
  • AM Best Rating: A-
  • Availability: 50 states; ACA plans in 36 states

Blue Shield firms provide substantial nationwide coverage, with a concentration on student health plans and travel benefits. Their plans often have minimal copays and excellent premium-deductible scores. 

While benefits and plan types vary by location, BCBS consistently obtains high marks for quality and consumer satisfaction. They also provide foreign health insurance coverage to students.


  • Wide availability
  • PPO plans
  • 3.6-star average customer satisfaction


  • Benefits vary by state
  • J.D. Power ranking varies

3. ExchangeGuard

  • Overall rating: 4.4
  • AM Best rating: A-
  • Availability: For all international students 

ExchangeGuard meets the needs of college students. ExchangeGuard offers students and their families peace of mind with affordable and comprehensive coverage. 

This specialized insurance package covers previous conditions and preventive procedures, ensuring timely access to vital care. ExchangeGuard offers flexible alternatives for local and international students. ExchangeGuard protects students’ health and well-being, letting them study.


  • Provides essential coverage for students’ healthcare needs.
  • Offers peace of mind and security during periods of illness or injury.


  • May incur additional financial burdens for students already facing tight budgets.
  • Limited coverage options and restrictions may not meet all students’ needs.

4. Oscar health

  • Overall Rating: 4.4
  • AM Best Rating: Not rated
  • Availability: 18 states

Oscar stands out for its easy-to-use mobile app and virtual care alternatives, which include free virtual urgent care with most plans. Despite being available in fewer states than others, Oscar provides competitive pricing and incentives for healthy behaviors. However, its proposals receive rather low-quality scores.


  • Robust mobile app
  • $0 Virtual care
  • Offers catastrophic plans


  • Low customer satisfaction rating
  • Limited availability

5. Patriot Exchange Program

  • Overall rating: 3.4
  • AM Best rating: A
  • Availability: not listed

The Patriot Exchange Program provides customized health insurance for international students with visas. This package covers eligible family members on F-2, M-2, or J-2 visas to meet their needs. Students can choose from $50,000 to $500,000 per accident or illness. 

The plan covers COVID-19 costs and allows non-emergency telemedicine. The Patriot Exchange Program gives overseas students and their families peace of mind and appropriate support throughout their academic journey.


  • Access to necessary medical services and treatments.
  • Offers a safety net for unexpected health emergencies.


  • Premium costs can strain already limited student finances.
  • Coverage limitations and exclusions may lead to unexpected out-of-pocket expenses.

6. CVS/Aetna

  • Overall Rating: 3.8
  • AM Best Rating: A
  • Availability: 12 states

Through their partnership with CVS, Aetna makes it simple to access MinuteClinics for in-person care. While coverage varies by region, Aetna’s services are generally rated favorably. They also provide student health insurance solutions through partnerships with several colleges and universities.


  • Low-cost MinuteClinic visits
  • Virtual care options
  • 3.5-star NCQA rating


  • Varying J.D. Power ratings
  • No catastrophic plans

7. Cigna Global

  • Overall rating: 3.0
  • AM Best rating: B-
  • Availability: not listed

Cigna Global is a major health insurer. They offer complete medical coverage to students on J-1, M-1, and F-1 visas, but not student-specific insurance. This approach has worldwide reach outside the US, a major benefit. Cigna provides medical coverage for students in the US and abroad, including Canada, Mexico, and more, giving them peace of mind during exchanges.


  • Ensures preventive care access.
  • Covers prescription medications.


  • Limited provider networks.
  • Policy complexity may confuse.

8. Kaiser Permanente

  • Overall Rating: 4.4
  • AM Best Rating: Not rated
  • Availability: 8 states + D.C.

Kaiser Permanente provides affordable plans with a focus on value, particularly for older students. Kaiser has good customer satisfaction scores due to its inexpensive premiums and comprehensive coverage. 

While Kaiser’s plans are only available in eight states and the District of Columbia, they provide free virtual care and a variety of mental levels, including catastrophic coverage. However, copays may be greater when compared to other providers.


  • The best insurance rates for 25-year-olds
  • Catastrophic plans available.


  • Limited availability
  • Relatively low-rated mobile app
  • Relatively high copays

Why do students need health insurance? 

A minimum level of health insurance was mandated by the Affordable Care Act in 2014. Uninsured people who could afford coverage would be fined when they submitted their taxes. Since 2019, this financial penalty has been eliminated.

Health insurance may also motivate students to have regular checks and doctor visits. Some people avoid medical care due to a lack of health insurance. Research suggests that uninsured young individuals are more likely to not fill prescriptions, avoid suggested tests and treatments, not contact a doctor or clinic while sick, and postpone specialist care.

Keep your parents’ insurance

You may wish to stay under your parents’ Covered health insurance if you’re under 26. Even if you’re married and no longer a tax dependent, your parents’ insurance usually covers you until 26. College students are often better off using their parents’ health insurance.

If you’re moving out of state for college, this may not be sensible. Moving away doesn’t void your insurance, but your chosen network won’t follow. No Covered plan includes out-of-state hospitals, doctors, or other health care providers. To see a network provider while attending college out of state, you must return home.

Some students schedule routine doctor appointments and procedures during school breaks to be home. This strategy only works if you go home for breaks, so you’ll have to wait until after college to travel. You may enjoy traveling home for breaks, but visiting the doctor takes time away from family or sleep.

In addition to these drawbacks, this plan’s main issue is that occasionally you require medical attention without traveling home. If you get sick or wounded and require medical attention straight away, you may have to travel near campus and pay for it. If you need emergency medical care while at school, your parents’ Covered plan will cover them at the in-network price, regardless of state or city.

We’ve examined this option’s drawbacks, but what makes it worth considering? This method saves time, effort, and money by not requiring a strategy. You may have to pay a deductible at the doctor’s, but not your premium. Mom and Dad may be open to your help.

Learn about your parent’s health insurance plan to decide if staying with them is better.

If you leave your parents’ insurance, look elsewhere. Consider student insurance. Many schools offer health plans. The name implies these plans target your demographic. Full-time college students in their late teens and 20s can apply. Universities offer these programs to students, but they are different from the group health insurance they give faculty and staff.

Student loans may assist pay for this plan. Schools commonly combine premiums with tuition and room & board. Student health insurance can help if you need coverage but are trying to save.

The negative is that the plan may need a single-sum premium payment rather than monthly or quarterly payments. This shouldn’t affect you if your student loan covers the expense for now. Student health plans have cheaper premiums than national health insurance policies, regardless of distribution. Your deductibles may decrease.

Student health insurance policies are cheaper since they cover a younger, healthier population. While your age may have increased your auto insurance premium, it works in your favor with health insurance.

Some student health plans cover school clinics, which may be your most convenient treatment location. They won’t limit you to school-run hospitals. Check out other student health network medical services. Some student health plans offer a wider national medical network when traveling. You could also use telehealth.

Remember that school-sponsored student health plans should cover you year-round. When home for winter or summer break, a plan from an institution outside that confines you to an in-state network can be inconvenient.

Make sure you grasp the details of your institution’s student health insurance plan before buying it to decide if it’s good for you.

Buy Your Own Health Insurance

If you don’t want to stay on your parent’s insurance and your university doesn’t offer a student health plan or you don’t like it, you may choose to buy your insurance through the marketplace. When attending school in another state, you’ll likely want to buy coverage through its marketplace. 

To buy a plan, you must apply and provide information about your health history, income, and other factors to determine your coverage and price. Student income is likely poor, even if you work. If yes, you may qualify for tax credits or lower rates to make marketplace health insurance more affordable. If your parents claim you as a dependent on their taxes, you won’t qualify for low-income savings.

Health insurance firms provide bronze, silver, gold, and platinum plans. With so many alternatives, choose the one that meets your budget and health demands. Consistently declaring oneself a tax dependent or not requires coordination with your parents.

A catastrophic health plan may offer lower-cost coverage. These plans usually exclusively cover under-30s. These plans feature cheap premiums and high deductibles to shield you from worst-case scenarios that could result in extraordinarily high medical expenditures if you paid for them out-of-pocket.

Medicaid Coverage

Student health insurance through Medicaid may be an alternative if you’re worried about cost. Medicaid is a federal and state program that helps low-income people get health insurance. Medicaid was limited before the Affordable Care Act, but it has subsequently grown. Medicaid is now available to non-eligible people in many states.

You cannot apply for Medicaid on your own if your parents still list you as a tax dependent, but your family can if your household income is modest. Financially independent people may qualify for support.


1. Which health insurance is most suitable for college students?

The optimal health insurance for college students varies based on individual circumstances. Students with lower incomes may find Medicaid beneficial, while others might discover cost savings by opting for their school’s insurance plan.

2. What is the average cost of health insurance for college students?

Student health insurance plans range from $1,500 to $2,500 per year, although actual costs can vary significantly depending on the institution.

3. What is the most affordable health insurance for college students?

The affordability of health insurance depends on the student’s financial situation. Many students can remain on their parents’ insurance plan at no additional cost, while those with low income might qualify for Medicaid.

4. How long can college students remain on their parent’s insurance?

After the enforcement of the Affordable Care Act, college students can stay on their parent’s insurance until they reach the age of 26. This applies even if the student does not file as a dependent.


We hope you can find student health insurance to succeed in school. If you locate a budget-friendly plan but still have to pay for large medical bills, Aflac supplemental insurance may help. We assist your primary health insurance to cover high medical bills.

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