Many colleges require their students to carry health insurance coverage, and the ACA also requires nearly all Americans to maintain health insurance coverage or face a tax penalty. Most four-year colleges 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’re employed full time. If they’re in a state that has expanded Medicaid and have an income below 138 percent of the poverty level (that’s about $16,394 in 2016), they can enroll in Medicaid.
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).
Read more about student health insurance.