Health Care & Insurance for College Students

Parent Q&A

Select any title to view the full question and replies.

  • My son's next dental checkup is due after he'll (hopefully) be off to college in the fall, and it occurred to me that I don't know how other parents handle this. Do you just schedule appointments during school breaks when they're likely to be home, or find a local dentist near college? During my own college years I just went 4 years without visiting the dentist, but in retrospect that wasn't the best choice! Please tell me how your college kids get dental checkups. Thanks!

    We scheduled visits for breaks. That sometimes means going longer than 6 months to get the schedule to fit. There comes a time when they don't come home every summer and winter and though, then I would have them see the dentist whenever we did get a visit from them.

    We have our college-aged kids visit the dentist when they are home for breaks/over the summer.  We just switched them both from their pediatric dentists to our dentists as well.  It generally works.

    If they go to UC and opt for the UCSHIP insurance, it includes dental and they get referred through the student health center. Or, if you have a plan like Delta Dental, there are dentists all over. Or, scheduling for break could be best if you want to really make sure they go!

  • Our son is a high school senior on a private individual health plan with Blue Shield of California.  We are considering switching to another provider and are wondering this:  How do parents with kids at college away from home handle their health insurance?  Does the health plan you use cover them if they are out of the area?  Is any insurance company better than another at providing coverage outside the family's local area?  We are thinking about Kaiser in particular, or staying with Blue Shield, but all suggestions are welcome.

    I haven't done this yet for my own kid, but working in HR I helped out other people. Basically you contact the (non-Kaiser) carrier to tell them that your child is in college in X city, and depending on your type of plan, the carrier will either reassign them to a primary care physician in that city, or tell you that as long as the doctor/facility takes the insurance you don't need to do anything. For Kaiser, be aware that Kaiser is not available everywhere and it may not work for your child to have non-emergency appointments during the school year at all. Check the websites for Blue Cross and Kaiser and there will be forms to fill out to report that your student is away from home. Another option is to take them off of your plan and put them on the college's plan.

    Hi there,

    We recently dealt with this issue. I think most colleges offer health care insurance that’s included as part of their student fees. You can sign a waiver to save some money if you don’t need the coverage. We have Kaiser and the state where my son goes to college doesn’t have Kaiser (FL). It’s a pain in the butt to deal with that. In addition, I compared the cost for him to be covered with us on our family plan or solo with the school’s plan, and it was pretty much even. So we took him off our plan and paid for him to have the school’s insurance (United Health Care PPO). 

    One of my friends’ daughters went to a school in SoCal and they just kept her on their Kaiser family plan, since SoCal has Kaiser options too.

    You can get health coverage information from the schools to which your son is applying, just so you have an idea of what your options are before he decides where he’s going. Hope this helps.

    US colleges will require that atudents provide proof of health insurance. Their default, if they don't receive adequate proof of insurance is to put students on the University's health care plan, which costs toughly $3k a year. You need to check coverage areas once you know where your student will be attending college, as not all plans (including Kaiser) are accepted at all campus locations. It is important to know the locations of local hospitals and Urgent health Care Centers that accept your students health insurance plan as many student health care centers on campus don't accept all plans and are not open 24x7. I created a short listing of health center phone numbers for my student that was pasted to the back of his dorm room door to make it easy for him to locate the information when needed. Good luck, Elaine 

    We have Kaiser, and covered my son's emergency treatment at a non-Kaiser hospital when he was away at college in a location where there were no Kaiser facilities. He was only a 4hour drive away so the one time he got pretty sick but non-ER level I went and got him. If your son is going far away, he might need supplemental insurance that should be available low cost through his college, depending what the situation is with student health clinic at the college.

    When our daughter first went to college in New York City, we were on a Kaiser plan we got through Covered California, and we were dismayed to find out those plans offered NO coverage outside of the Northern California service area. Fortunately, by her sophomore year, I had gotten a job that provided a Kaiser plan that does pretty much completely cover any care she gets in NYC. So since then she gets  routine check-ups when she is home, urgent care at her college health center, and in one case where she did go to the emergency room, it was covered with I think a $150 deductible. She is able to email her doctors and fill many prescriptions by mail; anything else she picks up when she's home on visits or we bring when we go see her. It has worked well, but that first year was nerve wracking; she is a pretty healthy kid with no chronic health issues, but at one point we were afraid that a complication from getting her wisdom teeth out would send her to the ER in New York and it would be all out of pocket for us. So, in our experience, Kaiser is great unless it's a Covered California plan. I briefly investigated individual health plans in New York and they were all very expensive. A friend whose daughter goes to school in Chicago got her a very reasonable individual plan, but by two years the premiums had tripled, so it seems trying to keep them on the family plan makes sense. Hope this helps.

    Most colleges provide health insurance for their undergraduate students

    I work at UC Berkeley at the Tang Center (student health services). UC Berkeley is big enough that they have a Student Health Insurance Program (SHIP), and students are required to enroll (few thousand dollars per year in cost) or prove comparable insurance. Here's the problem: lots of students opt to go on their parent's insurance to save money--great idea! Except: parents don't give their kids lessons in how to use their insurance or what to do in case something happens. I see this especially with Kaiser--the closest Kaiser to campus is all the way in Oakland which can be difficult when these students don't have cars. So, they end up here at the Tang Center, and we take care of them emergently, of course! But, if it requires follow-up care, or a referral to a specialist, or on-going care--it becomes more difficult. There are lots of things that can go wrong in that age group of people--autoimmune diseases bloom around then, or maybe they need some mental health support to help with their big change in life, or maybe they twist their ankle/break a bone and need follow-up care. Don't make the mistake of thinking that nothing will happen while they are gone and they can just see their regular docs when they are home for well visits! Give them a lesson in how health insurance works. Have them set up with at least a Primary Care doc in the town where they are a student (they are there a majority of the year!) Or, if you can swing it--buy the campus insurance so it is easier for us to take care of them. 

    Most colleges and universities have their own plans, which are often mandatory unless you have other coverage.  You may want to defer making a change until you know where your son is going to college.  For us, Blue Shield was fantastic, because their Away From Home Care [AFHC] program (which is designed for exactly your situation) operated in New Hampshire, where our daughter went to school.  It does not have coverage in all states, however.  If you can use it, I would highly recommend it.  She had her own primary care physician there, and the only thing we had to be careful about was to let them know when she was in New Hampshire and when she was in California so that the proper coverage would apply.  I have to say that the AFHC people were some of the nicest and most helpful insurance folks I have ever dealt with. 

    I have two kids in college. One up at Sonoma State, and one at Portland State.  We have Kaiser.  Both colleges actually provide very basic healthcare coverage for students that is covered via fees in the tuition. Both kids tend to go the the school's health center for most basic things (flu shots, antibiotics, stomach bugs, some prescriptions, general wellness, etc). PSU actually required us to prove we had healthcare (for emergency coverage), otherwise they would have forced us to purchase a plan up in Oregon for my daughter. Kaiser happens to be up in Portland.

    When the kids come home for holiday/summer breaks, they still go see their primary care doctors under Kaiser for checkups, etc.  My son uses Kaiser up in Santa Rosa for his allergy shots, and medications associated with allergies.

    I think assuming that your child will use a combination of both (school + health plan) is probably the way to go - also taking into consideration where she/he ends up going to college. Kaiser isn't on the east coast - so they're not really ideal, but they do cover emergency visits anywhere. Blue Shield providers are everywhere.

    Good luck!

  • How do other parents handle medical care/appointments for their young adult children? Mine is at college on the East Coast and it is difficult to coordinate the medical care. Normally this hasn't been a problem but something has come up where she has been referred to a specialist.

    It's the child's responsibility.  If your daughter is over the age of 18, no practitioner should even speak to you unless you have a power of attorney authorizing you to share in her medical decisions. 

    It has been a problem for me and at times I could not even make an appointment for my child. Your child must sign a form that provides you access to her medical records, etc. The insurance has the form. Then you will be able to make appointments and coordinate the medical care. Make sure you provide a copy of it to her main doctor, too.

    This is such a difficult area once they leave home!  Because of HIPAA - she does have to give permission for HCPs to speak to you.  You can get forms and have daughter fill it out, make copies.  Ask each office how to get that done, then instruct your daughter.  She's probably afraid :/  (As if all of a sudden the minute they hit college they have a complete brain change and are able to deal with all this.  It is totally ridiculous - but the way that it is.)  Our experience - child wants the help, it's all in the way we ask permission to help them.  And for docs they didn't want to give permission - I would just write emails/letters to the doc to explain my take on the situation.  My son was so depressed and couldn't get to class one semester I called the psychiatrist at the health center.  She said he had to reach out.  I asked if she had ever been depressed?!  And if my son committed suicide maybe she might feel responsible?  crazy system.... good luck!  both mine ended up ok - but we stayed on top of situations. It was just too much for them to handle school and medical all alone/away from home.  Depending on the situation, before any meds - consider a functional medicine doc who can do all necessary testing to see if perhaps a nutritional deficiency - so many kids are low in D, Bs, magnesium, etc etc.

Archived Q&A and Reviews


Kaiser coverage for out-of-state college student

Sept 2015

My daughter is headed to University of Washington in a few weeks, and I'm confused about the degree to which Kaiser will cover her out-of-state. We are members here in Northern California, and there are no Kaiser facilities in Seattle.

The Kaiser ''visiting member'' brochure states that she will be covered for urgent and emergency care from any non-Kaiser provider — which is all that she needs — but I want to make sure that she will be considered a ''visiting member'' versus someone who has moved to another state and therefore no longer qualifies.

Have others had experience with Kaiser re out-of-state coverage for college kids? Is there any need to get supplemental coverage (beyond the basic clinic service offered by the university)?

Thanks for your thoughts. UW Mama

We had this Kaiser issue with our older son, who went to college in a state with no Kaiser nearby. There was no problem keeping him on our coverage (and in our case, no cost, since Kaiser charges the same for 1 child or 2). The drawback, medically, was that while he did indeed have emergency coverage out of state, he had no routine coverage. So, for example, if he had been in an accident, Kaiser would have covered his ER treatment, but not any followup visits or checkups. Likewise, he had no way to get a routine physical except when home for visits. But if you're willing to live with the gap between very minor care (presumably provided at UW's onsite clinic) and emergency care (covered by Kaiser), and if UW will allow you to have health care coverage with no local provider (our son's college would not), then you'll be OK.

By the way, our younger son has used non-Kaiser emergency care while out of state at college, and it worked very straightforwardly. He is in a state with Kaiser, on our California Kaiser policy. He was transported by ambulance to a non-Kaiser facility in an emergency situation. He gave his Kaiser info, and the bill was sent to Kaiser. We then got a bill from Kaiser for just $100, which is the emergency care co-pay on our Kaiser policy, and there was almost no paperwork. David M

My daughter went to college in the East for 6 years. Kaiser did not operate in that state. The university requires all students to have health insurance. We bought the extended student coverage through her university; it was great and worth the investment! She used it for wellness check-ups, lab tests, doctors, surgery and PT in that state (the latter things were not anticipated when she went to college!) and she was able to use the plan with out-of-network docs in the Bay Area when she was home on school vacations. The policy coverage was very comprehensive. I learned from talking to Kaiser about out-of-area services is that is for when you are traveling and not near a Kaiser facility. It's not for cases where a Kaiser member is living outside of a Kaiser service area, even for an academic year at a time. One never knows what will happen with our kids when they are away at school. I am very glad we opted for the policy offered through the university. Kept my DD health safe

Health Insurance to Bridge the Gap - 21-y-o

June 2010

I'm sharing our experience with our 21-yr old because I think there may be other families with this situation. Our soon-to-graduate daughter comes off our health insurance the day she graduates. She doesn't have a job that has health insurance, so we applied for an individual Kaiser policy. The questionnaire was lengthy but gave virtually no room to explain. Long story short, she was denied coverage. The decline cited ''serious medication'' and ''alcohol consumption'' as reasons. She was prescribed a small dose of Trazodone for temporary insomnia - at the time I was distressed to hear this because I know that it is more commonly prescribed for depression. Her alcohol consumption is probably below average for a student at a school with a party reputation, and with perfect attendance and a 3.65 GPA, and two internships I don't think she has a substance abuse problem. We will appeal the decision and can COBRA if needed - but I'm wondering whether other families have had a similar experience? In hindsight, we would get a note from the dr. re the reason for the prescription, and we would have attempted to come in under the established drinking limit, but a six-pack a week is not excessive in my opinion. Still hoping for health care reform - Concerned parent

The new health insurance laws recently passed by Congress will solve this problem. Children will be covered past college graduation. A few weeks ago the SF Chronicle Business section had an article about how these new laws will affect college graduates and you should search for this article on You should also ask your company's HR department about when the new law is to be implemented for your work health insurance plan. What I remember from the article is that some companies were implementing it immediately (so your 21-year-old would immediately be covered in that case) whereas others were implementing it when the new health insurance contract came into effect yearly for each company (which might be October 2010 or January 2011, depending on the company). Your company must comply and cover your child but it may not start right away. Ask! Also, if your student had health coverage at the college attended, usually this runs through the summer after graduation (check on this).

It is highly annoying that health insurance companies refuse to offer coverage because of pre-existing conditions or behaviors that they see linked to increased use of health care services. I don't know if you can get around this on appeal since they may be allowed to rule out people based on these factors which may increase risk. If your child can stay on your health insurance plan for a few more years, this would be of great benefit. She can also reduce the behaviors that they used to judge her as ineligible, so a few years from now her background might pass their review. Good luck! And be thankful that Congress passed health care reform. Anonymous

assuming you still have health insurance coverage, your daughter might still be covered. i believe the new health care legislation mandates that children up to the age of 26, regardless of dependent or marital status, can receive coverage under their parents' insurance. not sure if it's employer dependent, by my employer just sent out a notice to all employees advising us that this is now in effect. good luck! Andrea

if your daughter had school sponsored health plan... that stinks! the day she graduates? If you have Kaiser now, Kaiser has generously implemented the 26 year age limit kids of family plans as of June 1, ahead of the new national standard (i don't work for Kaiser btw)

Health insurance for UC Santa Cruz college student

May 2009

I'm wondering if there are any parents out there whose child has gone to UC Santa Cruz (or to any UC for that matter) and what you did about the health insurance question? My daughter is going to UCSC next year. I have health insurance through my job for both of us. We have good coverage including mental health benefits (which is a particular concern as she takes an anti-depressant medication), vision and dental. I am not going to take her off my insurance and substitute the UCSC insurance. I really want her to be able to get immediate care on-site and also have access to the mental health services on campus if she needs them. I was thinking of signing up for CruzCare (which they say is good for students who are already insured). Does anyone have experience with this? How has it worked out? Any other tips would be accepted gratefully! Thanks in advance! anon mom

You may have already done this, but have you checked with your current insurer to see if she can stay on your insurance and use doctors in Santa Cruz? I went through this kind of research a year ago, when my daughter went off to college, and found out that within CA my daughter could stay on our plan and just choose a different primary care doctor. I realize this varies from plan to plan. We have the Blue Cross HMO. What I also found out at the time was that Blue Cross has a little publicized agreement with Blue Cross providers in other states, so even though my daughter ended up going to school out of state, she was able to stay on our plan and switch to a ''guest membership'' in the state where her college is, but still use doctors here whenever she's home. anon

There is an option - read the website as well as the brochure. Do not hesitate to call Health Services and/or email them. We provided proof of insurance, and we have a modified coverage so our student can go to Campus Health but is covered for emergency treatment or local doctor's visit with our coverage. Your coverage is most likely better than the college's. If you drop your insurance there may be problems getting it back or a time gap. What are you going to do during breaks and summer? What if you student leaves in the middle of a quarter because of a serious illness? Serious illness is one of the main reasons one has health insurance. On the other hand if you loose your health coverage it is great to have the option to use the University Student Health Insuarance, and many people do not have family coverage. UCSC parent

When my son was at UCSC, even though he remained covered through my Healthnet and we could have switched his primary care physician to someone in Santa Cruz, we paid the extra so that he could have easy access to health care on campus. He used it a fair amount and we felt that it was money well spent. Parent of UCSC grad

Medical insurance for daughter at out-of-state college

April 2008

It's looking likely that my daughter will be going to college out-of-state next year. I just learned today that our medical insurance, through my employer, will cover her in California, only. It will cover her for emergencies outside of CA, but even that might be dicey, I suppose, if she's really living out of state full time. I'm sure some of you have been through this and can offer some advice. Do I take her off of my medical plan and sign her up for medical insurance through the university? It's expensive! Should I pay out of pocket for little things that might come up while she's away and keep her on my current plan (Blue Cross HMO) for emergencies? Thanks for any advice you can offer. Soon to be Mom of a college student

Check to see if your Blue Cross HMO has any providers (doctors, hospitals, etc.) under contract in the area where your child will be going to school. If the number is limited or nonexistent, then the coverage (your current coverage) will be of little value to your child while she is in school. Check the school's plan to see if it is a comprehensive plan. If it is, it might be better to have your child insured under that plan, but make sure that she will be covered outside of the school year and in her home area as well as the area where she goes to school. If you have additional questions, feel free to e-mail me directly. Robert

My son turned 23 and was taken off his health insurance. I contacted Jean Sturges, a health insurance agent I found through this web site. She recommended a Health Net plan that costs $51 per month and has a 25% deductible for each visit up to $1500 per year. He can get a physical for free, I think, according to her. The plan only covers a few generic medications and does not cover birth control or pregnancy for girls. He got the plan by answering no to every question-- I would have put a few minor things down but she encouraged us not to list them. He is on no medications, has no health problems, eats a healthy diet and exercizes regularly. anon

It really depends on how much of a gambler you are--will your child get sick at college or not? I don't think any of us can predict that, and I've heard lots of stories of students getting sick or injured at college. Plus, most students do not have cars or know how to look for a new doctor in a new town, especially if they're sick. I think it's important that children are insured so that they can immediately seek medical treatment if needed, in a convenient way. Your choices are to opt for the college insurance (that's the way I'd go) or to take out an individual policy for your child. Blue Cross, Atena, Blue Shield all offer individual policies; the problem is these policies often have high deductibles. I would think that the last thing to skimp on would be health insurance for your child. Anonymous

We have kept our daughter on our medical plan and, in addition, purchased the (in-state) university's student medical plan. If she used our plan at school, she would have to travel a substantial distance to see a doctor (and she doesn't have a car). The school has a clinic on-site. In almost two years (she is a sophomore) she has only gone to the clinic once. During winter quarter this year she got sick and couldn't shake a fever for a few days. Going to the on-campus clinic enabled her to get a doctor's slip which meant some of her assignment due dates could be delayed because she was so sick. susan

We have Kaiser and this is how we've handled it. Ours attends college in Chicago. We fly her home for occasional weekends when it makes sense to use the medical facilities we pay for here----she notifies her profs in advance of missing a Friday or a Monday because she's here for a 3 day weekend, using the weekday to see dentist, dermatology, lab work, primary physician, orthodontist (lost her retainer), whatever. For illnesses when she's back in Chicago, such as repeated strep throat last year, she went to the emergency room and unfortunately missed classes in order to sit there for several hours to be seen by a doctor. Just like your coverage, Kaiser only covers E.R. and Urgent Care outside their contract territories. Pharmacy: she mailed us her receipts and I forwarded them to Kaiser Claims.

Follow-up care after emergency room: she went to Urgent Care (sometimes called Immediate Care), which is covered, and got medical attention there--- follow-up and pharmacy. The biggest headache has been simply to get the kid to remember to fill out the Kaiser Claims address instead of our address (especially pharmacy, because there were so many items---in the end, Kaiser reimbursed us totally for all except the co-pay---I love Kaiser). I think we finally have it down, now---it takes awhile to work out the kinks/problems that arise in each situation. It would've gone a lot smoother initially if our student had kept a copy of the Claims address handy on her person at all times. I got sick of dealing with Kaiser Claims all the time--it takes 1/2 yr to get these things straightened out. Another note: she was hit by a car on her bicycle last year and there were a lot of expenses attached to that, including follow-up physical therapy. Of course, we couldn't fly her out here for that every week, so we had to pay for that ourselves---however, our insurance policy (hit by a car) covered her expenses generously, so we ended up making claims against our own policy for that major item. Good luck. It's not over when they go off to college.

Our 22 year is in college in the east and needs to buy private health insurance. Her permanent address is in CA. She wants a plan with a choice of doctors which also reimburses for medical care in other states. Does anyone have any suggestions, referrals?? Thanks. Jane

We've had some experience with medical insurance and coverage with kids in college. Our son was covered both through his college health insurance, which was HMO-style, pretty inexpensive and convenient with a clinic on campus, and through our family's policy. He was participating in a very strenuous sports program and had two episodes of difficulty breathing, blacking out, memory lapse. His coach urged him to seek medical care, which he did through the on-campus clinic. The clinic medical staff who saw him in a non-stress physical situation decided there was no problem, that he was likely just hyperventilating and getting too much oxygen; they told him to wear a mask during workouts to keep the blood oxygen level from getting too high. His coach said, ''See a real doctor.''

Unfortunately since the college medical plan was HMO style he needed a referral in order to see someone more skilled in sports medicine, and they felt they had diagnosed and dealt with his problem adequately. We would have had to personally intervene from a distance to navigate through the bureaucracy and appeal to get further up the chain of expertise.

Instead we decided to use our family's health insurance and were able to get him seen quickly by the renowned sports medicine staff which, ironically, is affiliated with the university our son attends. Our sense of urgency was spurred by the fact that our son was still participating in his sport and they were in midseason, and we felt the cause of his collapses needed to be addressed immediately for his own safety.

The sports medicine facility was great and were able to quickly determine the cause of his problem, which turned out to be a heart defect, and referred him to a cardiologist. Had we not had our own more flexible insurance we would have had to go through a cumbersome and time-consuming negotiation with the HMO structure and wouldn't have known the cause of the problem until after the sports season ended.

Our conclusion is that the college coverage was convenient and cheap, but maintaining our son on our family coverage was very worthwhile. And we would never have him go without health insurance of some kind in any event; it's way too risky. sb

I'm curious about how families deal with the medical insurance issue for college-aged students when their children have chronic health issues. My daughter has diabetes and if I understand it correctly, our options are not great. I would love to hear from others if I'm wrong about this. The way it seems to me is:

1)If I keep her on my plan and she chooses to go to school out of the area, she will not have convenient access to her regular doctors, and most university health clinics are not set up to deal with the specialized care diabetics require.

(2)If we select the university health insurance, it is viewed as the primary, in which case my health coverage wouldn't be utilized to its full advantage.

I also wonder if she switches to the school's plan, if she (1) would be covered during the summers and (2) would she be barred from being reinsured under my plan if the school plan doesn't work out? I've been told that if they're dropped from the parent's plan that they can't get back on. I've also been told that if she is unable to find a job immediately following graduation and loses health coverage that her diabetes becomes a pre-existing condition that insurance companies can discriminate against, thus the importance of Cobra and/or HIPPA.

I would love to hear words of advice from other parents who've dealt with this already. Thanks. anonymous

Insurance for 23-year-old daughter

August 2006

My daughter will be graduating from college in June 2007. Because she took a year off prior to college, she will be 23 when she graduates - just the age where she ceases to be covered by our health insurance (Health Net). She is not certain what she'll be doing after graduation, but as she is planning to take some time off prior to going to grad school, I am not assuming that she will have a job which immediately insures her. Our insurance provides a kind of interim coverage (Cobra) for 18-36 months after you go off the family policy, but it costs over $300/month. Before my daughter and I start researching other health insurance possibilities, I wanted to ask if anyone else had suggestions to guide us. Thanks much! Kathy

My son turned 23 last November, just before he was graduating college. He then came back to the Bay Area to do an internship which is basically unpaid, without health insurance of course. The Cobra would have cost in excess of $300/mo, as you found. We have HealthNet. I went to the Kaiser website and found a policy where we pay $110/month plus a $50 copayment on each visit. It covers health, dental, and vision. There's a yearly total deductable, which is fairly high but not as high as a couple days in the hospital. So we picked that. He has been to the doc once in the last year for a checkup, which cost around $200 plus the co-payment. He was happy with the experience and I'm happy he's insured and I'm not paying $300 month! By the way, you only have a small window of time to sign up for a new policy once they turn 23, so you need to stay on top of that. Otherwise they are considered uninsured and it costs more and is more of a hassle Ginger

We've had the same questions for our 19 yr. old son who is currently choosing not to continue in college after his 1st yr, and does not yet have a job (and many low-paying jobs he may be able to get would not provide health insurance in any case). If he is not a full time student our insurance does not cover him. I called Kaiser & Blue Cross. Both have plans in the $150 per month range (for a 19 yr old male). The one recommended did NOT cover pregnancy, so that may be a question to ask (just in case). I was told that he would NOT be required to get a health exam...just needed to sign up. Good luck in the same boat

There are so many options and information for your 23 year old. Be sure to look at Short Term as an option if your pretty sure she will get a job with coverage. Or look at a more standard plan which can cover her at a very reasonalbe cost if she/he does not have any heatlh issues. I do not recommend letting your COBRA go until you are sure she is eligible (which is based on the persons heatlh, what and how many medications and weight) for the individual plan. I have been an insurance field for 30+ years and help a lot of people learn the facts of their options to decide which overage best meets their needs financially and by plan design. I would be happy to help. Call me at 800- 222-BLUE or 510 881-4900 for help. There is never any added cost going through an agent and we can help with rates and claims and any renewals. Good luck. Also watch out for plans with no maternity. They are lower in cost but you always need to be sure of the risk when we deal with young ladies Sharon

Usually the only options for this situation are COBRA or an individual policy with a high deductible (e.g. catastrophic coverage). Once in a while there is an organization that provides group coverage to members, but usually these policies don't last very long. Claudia

We signed our daughter up for a Blue Cross individual policy. It's $75 a month, has a copay for office visits, etc but since she is relatively healthy we think it'll be fine until she gets her own insurance. karen

Health insurance for Students away at College

June 2006

My daughter is going to college on the east coast next fall. The college offers a health insurance plan for $2500 that covers everything. She now has Kaiser which will only cover emergency room visits when the student is out of the plan area. The college has a mandetory health service fee of $275 that provides doc visits but no drug coverage, lab work or xrays. There may be other kinds of independent student health insurance that would also work,but it likely has a high deducitble, like $2500. Any experience out there with this question? Your info will be greatly appreciated. Thank you. janet

for the parent asking about health insurance in a 19 year old university of chicago student, i learned this year that whenever you go into the health center, they pressure you to get the school insurance and make it seem like you'd be charged less if you had it. however, it's vastly overpriced, and hopefully your kid won't be spending too much time in the clinic. don't give in! you're paying the school more than enough already not-too-sick college student

Our daughter's new school (Sarah Lawrence) offers a $1400 plan. The school says that the plan covers all local docs, including mental health -- and that without the plan, student must sometimes return home for medical care if they are injured or need extra mental health help. We've heard that my husband's company (Home Depot) offers a low-cost plan that works out of state, but have yet to check it out. I'll be interested in hearing more about what you learn MS

Health insurance is such a thorny issue. Neither of my kids went very far from home so I know our experience doesn't fit exactly. However, for the record...

My son attended UCSC and was covered by our HealthNet plan. However, we did go ahead and pay for the student health insurance plan for him. He was our first and we thought it would be easier for him to navigate the system if he just knew he was covered. For approximately $55 a month he got: ''worldwide, year-round coverage, hospitalization, off-campus care with specialists and other services (e.g.; physical therapy, chiropractic and acupuncture), pharmacy, x-rays and lab services, up to $250,000 per calendar year, 85% coverage for in-network charges, $3000 out of pocket maximum, $200 deductible.''

What did he use? I probably don't know all of his visits but I remember that he had a bad cold/sore throat that I think he went for in his freshman year. He also injured his shoulder and saw someone about that. In his soph or junior year he decided to get accutane for acne that had bothered him for several years and the plan covered that drug and the accompanying visits and bloodwork.

My daughter is finishing her second year at UCD. We applied for the waiver for her (the plan at Davis costs about $250/quarter). The UCD health center is open to all students (whether or not they are enrolled in the student health insurance plan) and charges small ''deductibles'' for all services. She has used the women's health care services but has filled prescriptions through our HealthNet at the Walgreens in Davis.

$2500 does seem a bit steep. You can probably safely assume that all she'll need is the occasional drs. visit and perhaps birth control ;-) . It sounds like the $275 will cover the visits, generic drugs are relatively cheap (and that's usually all the plans will cover anyway!), and sounds like Kaiser would cover a trip to the emergency room where she would probably end up for x-rays. The beauty of a plan that covers everything is that it allows them to be totally independent of you in managing their own health care. Sally

Both my kids are at school back east (college and grad school) and have full health insurance at their institutions. One was diagnosed with a chronic illness several months ago and required emergency surgery, plus a follow-up surgery and several hospitalizations. The total cost of that episode was approximately $75,000. We paid more for plane tickets back and forth than out-of-pocket for the medical care. The other was taken by ambulance to the emergency room in the fall. Thanks to the comprehensive coverage, we were spared additional anxiety and expense.

One hopes that young people will be spared health problems but there are unforeseen events. Insurance is a gamble and finances are certainly a consideration but in our case, choosing the more expensive option turned out to be a wise move Anonymous

Health insurance for 23-year-old daughter with asthma

May 2005

My daughter is 23 and on an expensive Cobra health policy. Since she has a pre-existing condition (asthma), I'm concerned that she might be uninsurable. She just graduated from college and will be job hunting. I suspect she wont be looking for jobs that provide health coverage. I could really use some advice on how to approach this. Any suggestions on specific health policies that might work? Thanks. Concerned Parent

I was in a similar position years ago (except for the asthma). I was paying for a Cobra plan, and when I called the insurance company about a personal policy, it turned out to be about 1/3 as expensive. So I switched as soon as I could.

Have your daughter check with the insurance company she has now through Cobra about an individual policy. Since they should know about her pre-existing condition already, they might not make a big deal about swithing her to a personal plan.

It that doesn't work, there is HIPAA. State law says every insurance company has to offer a plan that basically anyone can sign up for. Of course it's going to be pricy, maybe more than the Cobra coverage.