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What are Health Insurance Options for Georgia Students

HealthCare Writer

Updated on July 1st, 2021

At, we want to make health insurance easy to understand so you can make better decisions. This post may have links to lead generation forms or direct you to our trusted insurance brokers, which is how we make money. However, this will not influence our writing.

What You Need to Know

Georgia law does not require students to have health insurance, but most of Georgia’s colleges and universities make coverage mandatory.

Many Georgia schools automatically enroll students in a student health plan; however, you may be able to waive it if you’re enrolled in a plan with comparable coverage.

You can maintain insurance coverage through a parent until you turn 26. You’ll need to make sure it includes providers near your school and that it meets school requirements. 

As you plan for college, don’t forget about health insurance coverage. You’ll need a way to pay for healthcare while you’re at school. Georgia students have several options, and we’ll explore the most common ones here. 

Why Do Georgia Students Need Health Insurance?

Everyone needs to see a doctor from time to time, whether for preventive care or to treat an unexpected illness or injury. When you do, health insurance helps cover some of the cost. Without it, you’ll have to pay entirely out of pocket for medical care.

What Should You Consider When Searching for Student Health Coverage in Georgia?

When it comes to student health coverage, there’s not a one-size-fits all choice. Your personal health and financial situation will largely determine what makes sense for you. As a student, you’ll also want to consider the following:

Will You Attend School In State or Out of State?

If you’re from Georgia and stay in state for school, you may want to keep your existing coverage. Just be sure the plan’s provider network includes doctors and hospitals near your school. If not, will you realistically be able to travel home when you need healthcare? 

If you come from another state, you’ll probably be out of your existing plan’s network. In that case, you’ll likely need to find new coverage. Many policies don’t cover out-of-network care or will charge you more for it.

Can Someone Claim You as a Dependent? 

Under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), if you enroll in an individual major medical plan, you may be eligible for premium tax credits and cost-sharing reductions that are based on income. Your status as a dependent could impact your eligibility for these subsidies.

If someone else can claim you a dependent on their tax return, all income on that return will be used to determine your subsidy. If you’re not a dependent, only the income included on your tax return will be used. 

Will You Stay on Your Parent’s Plan or Enroll in Your Own Plan? 

If you intend to maintain coverage through your mom or dad, make sure your plan covers healthcare providers near your school. If it doesn’t, you may need to enroll in your own plan. And even if it does, you may want to see if there’s a more economical choice available to you as a student.

What If You Get Covered Under Your Parent’s Plan in Georgia? 

Staying on your parent’s health insurance policy can be convenient and affordable. And, federal law allows you to do so until you turn 26, regardless of whether you’re in college, living at home, eligible for your own job-based coverage, financially dependent, or married.1

This option can make the most sense if you’re enrolled in a school close to home. To help you decide, you’ll want to consider your existing plan’s network, whether or not you find a more affordable coverage option that fits your healthcare needs, and whether or not your parent’s plan meets school requirements. 

What’s Your Network?

Remaining on a parent’s health insurance can be convenient if you live in Georgia and plan to attend school there. But check first that the provider network includes doctors and other healthcare providers in the area where you’ll be in school.

What If You Get Covered Under Your School Plan in Georgia? 

Your college or university may offer a student health insurance plan. This coverage usually provides comprehensive benefits, low premiums that may be rolled into your school tuition, and provider networks that include on-campus care if your school has a student health center. 

A school plan may be the right choice if you’re uninsured, want coverage that’s less expensive than what you have now, or need coverage with a Georgia provider network. 

What If You Get Covered Through the Affordable Care Act in Georgia?

If you qualify for subsidies, an ACA plan could be cost-effective. ACA plans provide comprehensive coverage, including the 10 essential health benefits. They are also guaranteed issue, which means your application can’t be denied if you have preexisting health conditions such as diabetes or lupus. 

An ACA plan may be right for you if you: 

  • Need to see a doctor on a regular basis and/or take prescription medications.  
  • Buy your own health insurance and have a lower income. 
  • Need coverage with a Georgia provider network. 
  • Don’t have access to a student health insurance plan at school.

If you’re a dependent who comes from another state to attend school in Georgia, you and your parent(s) will need to fill out separate ACA applications and provide financial information for everyone included in the tax household. Your parent(s) will indicate that they don’t need coverage and the policy is for you; however, their income will still factor into your subsidy eligibility.2

ACA plans are available through the federal Health Insurance Marketplace during the annual open enrollment period or a special enrollment period triggered by a qualifying life event such as moving to (or from) where you attend school or turning 26.

What If You Get Covered Through Medicaid or CHIP in Georgia? 

If you’re already covered by Georgia Medicaid or PeachCare for Kids, Georgia’s State Children’s Health Insurance (S-CHIP) program, you can keep this coverage as long as you continue to qualify. Make sure the campus health center at your school accepts these benefits. If not, you’ll want to see if there are nearby providers who do or find out if coverage through your school will be affordable to you.

Medicaid and CHIP benefits don’t usually transfer between states. That means you’ll need to reapply in Georgia if you’re enrolled in one of these programs elsewhere. Georgia’s Department of Community Health provides more details about which populations are eligible for Medicaid, PeachCare for Kids, and other programs it administers. 

Budget-Friendly Options

Young adults on a tight budget might want to purchase a catastrophic or short-term health plan. While the premiums may be low, not everyone is eligible for these plans, however.

What Are Other Coverage Options in Georgia?

Two more coverage options that appeal to young adults on a tight budget include catastrophic and short-term health plans. They tend to have lower monthly premiums than unsubsidized ACA plans; however, not everyone is eligible for them.

Catastrophic Health Plans

Catastrophic health insurance is available to people under 30 and other adults with hardship and affordability exemptions. These plans are available through the federal Health Insurance Marketplace and provide comprehensive coverage for a low monthly premium. However, they have high deductibles, which can make them a better fit for people who have few healthcare needs. Catastrophic plans are not eligible for subsidies.

Short-Term Health Insurance

Short-term health insurance is a temporary coverage option that can work well for college students who don’t have access to coverage through a parent, can’t afford an unsubsidized ACA plan, attend a school that doesn’t offer a student plan, or need coverage for a month or two.

Short-term plans are designed to help with the cost of unexpected medical bills, as opposed to preventive care or treatment for preexisting health conditions. For this reason, short-term plans tend to cost less than unsubsidized ACA plans. 

Georgia short-term health insurance policies can last from 30 to 364 days, with renewals up to 36 months.3 You can quickly apply for short-term health insurance online or through an agent. However, coverage is not guaranteed issue, which means your application can be denied if you have a preexisting condition.

What If You Skip Health Insurance in Georgia? 

There is no longer a federal tax penalty for going without health insurance, and Georgia does not have a state penalty. If you choose to skip health insurance, you will be expected to pay your medical bills out of pocket.

What Are State-Specific Rules for Georgia Students? 

Colleges and universities in Georgia set their own health coverage requirements. 

What Are School Requirements in Georgia? 

Most of Georgia’s public and private schools require students to carry health insurance. You may be enrolled in a mandatory student health insurance program unless you provide proof of health insurance coverage that meets the school’s minimum standards. You’ll need to check with your institution to confirm its coverage requirements. Here are some examples of school requirements in Georgia: 

University System of Georgia

If you attend one of the schools within the University System of Georgia, you’ll be required to have “reasonable, comparable, creditable coverage” to the system-wide health insurance plan provided to students.4 This applies to domestic (U.S.) and international students. Each semester, you will need to opt-in or waive the student health plan offered.5 If you fail to take action by the deadline, you will be automatically enrolled at the end of the enrollment and waiver period.

Emory University

Emory University requires all new and continuing degree-seeking and international students to have health insurance.6 Students who fall within this mandate will be enrolled in the Emory University Student Health Insurance Plan unless they have an approved waiver, which must be completed annually and submitted by the due date.7 

What Are Resources for Georgia Students? 

Your school’s website can be a good starting point for learning more about student insurance plans, including rates and benefits.

The Peach State Health Plan website provides information about affordable individual and family health insurance plans available to certain populations, including PeachCare for Kids and Medicaid. Here, you can also search for healthcare providers that accept these programs. 

Georgia’s Office of Commissioner of Insurance and Safety Fire offers some general health insurance information. Here, you can also look up health insurance agents and companies as well as file complaints against them. The state utilizes the federal Health Insurance Exchange, where you can apply for coverage, learn about the Affordable Care Act, and find local assistance. 

Next Steps

Even if you think you know which coverage to choose, it can still be wise to compare a few options to be certain. Gather quotes for a few different plans as applicable, such as your parent’s coverage, the student insurance plan offered through your school, and ACA coverage. Next, compare the premium and cost-sharing amounts, plan benefits and exclusions, and provider networks to see which is the best fit while you’re away at school. If you have questions or need help with the enrollment process, contact the insurance company whose plan you’re considering or contact your school with questions about its student plan. 

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  1. U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. About the ACA: Young Adult Coverage. Accessed March 2021.

  2. U.S. Government Website for the Federal Health Insurance Exchange. In school? Student health plans & other options. Accessed March 2021.

  3. Federal Register. Short-Term, Limited Duration Insurance. Accessed March 2021.

  4. University of Georgia System. Student Affairs. Eligibility and Minimum Requirements. Accessed March 2021.

  5. University of Georgia System. Student Affairs. Waiver Process. Accessed March 2021.

  6. Emory University. Student Health Services. Insurance Fees and Information. Accessed March 2021.

  7. Emory University. Student Health Services. What’s New with Emory Insurance. Accessed March 2021.