Is Health Insurance for College Students Available Through the Exchanges?

Health insurance for college students can be a tricky thing.  For one, health insurance plans have limits on how long a dependent child can be on their parent’s medical plan.  Second, it can be hard to find a health insurance plan that is affordable for students while they are not making much money.

Both of these issues are addressed by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), or Obamacare as many people know it.  While the law is a political hot button, college age students can benefit greatly from the legislation.

How Does Obamacare Help College Students?

Health insurance for college students is addressed in couple of ways by the Affordable Care Act.  First, the law allows dependent children to remain on their parent’s plan until the child reaches age 26.  For many people, this gets them through the college years with access to health insurance.

Second, the law provides two avenues to help pay for medical expenses  – expanded Medicaid and the health insurance exchanges, or marketplaces.  Medicaid has been expanded to include adults that make less than 133% of the poverty level.  Medicaid is administered by the states, and not all states are going to expand Medicaid, so make sure to check with your state’s eligibility.

The health insurance marketplace, then, is a great option of health insurance for college students.

Why is the Exchange Good for College Students?

If a student in college needs to purchase insurance on their own, there is a good chance that they will be making this sort of purchase for the first time.  The exchanges are online locations where available plans are laid out side-by-side to make it easy to compare the health insurance options, both by plan design and premium.  This will make the purchase easy to wade through and understand.  If the student needs assistance, they can contact customer service representatives, called navigators, to help them through the process.

But perhaps the best thing for college students is that PPACA allows for tax credits for purchases through the marketplace if the individual makes less than 400% of the poverty level.  The calculation for this credit is done online.  Since many people in school make less than this threshold, health insurance for college students is much more affordable than before the Affordable Care Act.

Like Medicaid, the exchanges are administered through the states.  Some states do not have their own exchange.  In that case, residents will go through the federal marketplace.  You can find your state’s marketplace here.

Filing Tax Returns

One thing to be aware of if a college student purchases a medical plan through the exchange is that he or she will have to file a tax return, even if there would otherwise be no reason to file.  So while health insurance for college students is available for a low cost on the exchange, make sure to actually get the credit you were promised.

The Affordable Care Act is a controversial piece of legislation.  The effects, both good and bad, will be felt for years.  But one thing for sure is that the availability and affordability of health insurance for college students was helped by PPACA.

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