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13 qualifying life events that trigger ACA special enrollment
Outside of open enrollment, a special enrollment period allows you to enroll in an ACA-compliant plan (on or off-exchange) if you experience a qualifying life event.

Latest News & Topics

Latest News & Topics


Finalized federal rule reduces total duration of short-term health plans to 4 months
A finalized federal rule will impose new nationwide duration limits on short-term limited duration insurance (STLDI) plans. The rule – which applies to plans sold or issued on or after September 1, 2024 – will limit STLDI plans to three-month terms, and to total duration – including renewals – of no more than four months.
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student health insurance

What is student health insurance?

Most colleges and universities require their students to carry health insurance coverage — and even if they don’t, having health coverage is essential. Most schools offer health plans for their students, but traditionally, those plans included low lifetime and annual benefit maximums, and benefits that weren’t particularly comprehensive. That changed with the ACA, however.

The ACA prohibited lifetime maximums on essential benefits in student plans as of July 2012, and prohibited annual maximums on essential health benefits as of 2014. These requirements make student health plans more of a true safety net than they were in the past.

Student health insurance marketed by the university is not the only option, though. Students may opt instead to remain on their parents’ plan through age 26, or seek coverage through an employer’s plan if they have a job that offers health coverage.

And if they’re in a state that has expanded Medicaid and have an income below 138% of the poverty level, they can enroll in Medicaid (that limit is about $20,120 for a single individual in the continental U.S. in 2023; note that states generally wait until March or April to implement the current year’s poverty level guidelines for Medicaid eligibility).

They can also purchase their own individual health insurance plan through the exchange or off-exchange, with subsidies in the exchange based on income (note that if the student is a tax dependent on someone else’s return, the income of the entire tax household is taken into consideration, relative to the total number of people in the household).

There are several factors to keep in mind when deciding what coverage to use while in college. For example, your parents’ health plan might not offer maternity coverage for dependents, or it might not have a provider network in the area you’ll be going to school. And some schools offer student health plans that are self-insured and don’t conform to the ACA’s requirements, while other schools that are religiously affiliated might not cover contraception under their student health plan.

(The Biden administration has proposed a rule change in 2023 that would ensure access to zero-cost contraception even if a woman is enrolled in a plan that has a religious exemption from the contraception coverage mandate.)

Read more about student health insurance.

Related articles

How to buy affordable, comprehensive health insurance while you're at at college – and how to keep coverage after you graduate
College students have more coverage options as a result of the ACA. But how do you decide which option is best?
Most student health plans offered by colleges and universities are fully compliant with the ACA, with just a few exceptions that don't really affect the enrolled students.
Most student health insurance plans must include preventive care and cannot impose any cost-sharing for certain recommended preventive services.
Annual limits on essential health benefits were eliminated entirely as of 2014 for new and renewing student health insurance policies.
It's easier than ever for young adults to maintain health insurance coverage, and there are often multiple options.