According to the U.S. Census Bureau, in 2008 an estimated 15.4 percent of the population (46.3 million) did not have health insurance coverage. The same year, 9.9 percent of children (7.3 million) were uninsured. Having health insurance can save you from shelling out exorbitant amounts of money in the case of an emergency. If you require emergency medical care while in college, you don’t want to be caught without coverage.
The good news: many colleges and universities have prepaid health plans to cover the cost of some immunizations and lab work, check-ups, and routine exams. But you will probably need health insurance not provided by your school for visits to the emergency room, urgent care facilities, and for hospitalization. Before you head off to college, be sure you’ve investigated your options for coverage.
The University of Missouri-Columbia offers students a health plan that entitles them to specific services at the campus Student Health Center. All undergraduate students taking at least six credit hours pay a fee at the beginning of the semester to cover unlimited office visits to the health center for the treatment of illness and injury. Research the schools you’re interested in attending to find out if similar services are offered.
With a university-provided health plan, you can visit your campus facility when you have the flu, need an immunization, or simply need a check-up. If you have an accident that causes a more severe injury or you become seriously ill, however, you may need services beyond the scope of those provided by a campus health facility. In these instances, you’ll need health insurance. If you’re covered by your parents’ medical insurance, contact the service provider prior to receiving health care at school. The service provider should inform you of payments you or your parents are responsible for, stipulations relating to health care providers, and prescription costs.
If you don’t plan to use your parents’ medical insurance, you’ll need to shop around for a provider. Here are some online resources to get you started:
Do your research before purchasing insurance. Make sure the service provider you choose will cover your medical needs and will fit into your budget. Remember: you never know when you might need insurance for unexpected medical services.