Health Plan Options for College Students

Health Plan Options for College Students

Health Plan Options for College Students

The semester is well underway and college students are hitting the books to prepare for tests, papers and extra credit. But there is one thing students may not have thought to prepare for — what you will do if you get sick or injured?

Even if you are fit and healthy, it’s always a good idea to have a health plan. It gives you access to affordable care in case you get hurt or catch the flu, strep throat, mono and other nasty bugs that tend to make their way around campus.

Getting a health plan and learning how to use it while you are away at school doesn’t have to be hard or overwhelming.

Know Your Options

  • Stay on Your Parents’ Plan: If you are younger than age 26, you may not have to worry about finding a health plan. You may be able to stay on your parents’ plan if it covers children. But if you are going to school in a different state, you’ll want to make sure there are doctors, hospitals and other health care providers near campus that are covered by your parents’ plan. Not having in-network providers nearby can make things tricky if you get sick or hurt. You may have to pay extra to see an out-of-network provider or miss out on school to travel home to get care.
  • Shop on the Health Insurance Marketplace: You also have the option of looking for a health plan on the Health Insurance Marketplace leaving site icon — the website created under the Affordable Care Act. Shopping on the Marketplace leaving site icon might be a good idea if your budget is tight — which is often the case for students. If you get a plan on the Marketplace, you may qualify for tax credits that can lower your monthly premium payments and provide other savings. We offer a number of plans on the Marketplace, but please note that you can only enroll in one during Open Enrollment or after certain life events.
  • Consider a Student Health Plan: Your school may offer its own health plan. These plans are often less costly than your parents’ family plan because they are designed and priced for students. They also may provide network care options on campus or nearby.
    We offer student health plans for a number of schools, called AcademicBlueSM. Our student health plans:
    • Include preventive care, such as immunizations and screenings
    • Include prescription drug coverage
    • Offer low deductibles (the amount of money you have to pay before your health insurance plan starts to pay for services)
    • Offer low office visit copays and waive deductibles in certain cases
    • Include up to100% coverage at your student health center for eligible services
    • Provide access to the Blue Cross and Blue Shield network of doctors, hospitals and pharmacies
    For a list of universities who offer these plans, visit our website.

Are You Currently a BCBSTX Member?

  • Finding a network doctor near school: As mentioned above, if your school is far from home, you’ll want to make sure there are doctors, hospitals and other health care providers near campus that you can use under your plan’s benefits. You can find in-network providers with Provider Finder®.

    To access Provider Finder:

    You won’t have to select your network or plan — it will automatically be displayed. All you have to do is enter the right ZIP code and start your search.

  • Using your benefits out of your service area: If your school is not in Texas (also known as your plan’s service area), you may still be able to use your benefits through the Blue Cross Blue Shield Global® Core program or Away from Home Care® programs.
    • Global Core: If you have a BCBSTX PPO plan, you may have access to Global Core* — a program that gives you short-term access to doctors and hospitals across the U.S. As long as you visit a provider in the Blue Cross and Blue Shield network, you’ll get the same benefits as your BCBSTX plan when you are traveling or temporarily living out of your local service area.

      You won’t even have to file a claim after you receive care — the provider will take care of that. Just be sure to go to an in-network provider (which you can find through Provider Finder), and bring your BCBSTX ID card.
    • Away from Home Care: If you have a BCBSTX HMO plan, you can request to become a guest of another Blue HMO participating in your school’s area. As with Global Core, you will still be able to use your benefits when you visit providers in this HMO’s network.

      This program is only available to BCBSTX members who are away from home for at least 90 days. To find out if this program is available in your school’s area, call the Customer Service number on the back of your member ID card. And be sure to bring your member ID card wherever you go.

Still unsure about your health plan options? We can help! Send us your questions in a private message or in the comments below.

*The Blue Cross Blue Shield Global® Core program is not available to Medicaid, Medicare Advantage or Medicare Part D plan members. HMO plan members can use the Global Core Program only for emergency or urgent care when traveling or away from home for less than 90 days. Also, the Away From Home Care Program is not available to Medicaid plan members or to HMO plan members on the Blue AdvantageTM network.

Originally published 11/11/2015; Revised 2020, 2022