What You Need to Know
Idaho doesn’t mandate health insurance, but your school might.
You can remain on your parent’s health plan until you turn 26, but make sure it covers healthcare providers near your college or university.
Some Idaho schools offer a student health insurance plan, which may also be available to spouses and dependents.
You have a lot to consider as you plan for college, including how you’ll pay for healthcare. The following are common options for Idaho students:
- A parent’s policy.
- Student health insurance.
- Affordable Care Act (ACA) plans.
- Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP).
- Catastrophic coverage.
- Short-term plans.
We’ll explore these choices below.
Why Do Idaho Students Need Health Insurance?
Everyone needs to see a doctor from time to time. Health insurance lessens what you pay out of pocket for covered medical expenses, from preventive care to emergency services.
Visit your school’s website to learn more about its student health insurance rules and coverage.
What Should You Consider When Searching for Student Health Coverage in Idaho?
You’ll want to assess your healthcare needs and budget. Consider the following:
- Do you have ongoing healthcare concerns?
- What prescription drugs do you take?
- What do you consider an affordable monthly premium?
- What can you contribute to cost-sharing amounts (deductible, coinsurance, copayment)?
Then, answer these questions:
Will You Attend School In or Out of State?
If you’re an Idaho resident attending school in-state, you can probably keep your existing coverage. Be sure your plan’s network includes healthcare providers on or near campus.
If you move to Idaho for college, you’ll likely be out of network for your current plan. Many health insurance policies charge you more for out-of-network care if it’s covered.
Short-term or catastrophic health insurance plans can be cost-effective options, if you qualify.
Can Someone Claim You as a Dependent?
The Affordable Care Act makes subsidies available to those within certain income guidelines. Your dependency status could affect your eligibility.
If a parent or someone else can claim you as a dependent on their tax return, the household income on that return determines your subsidy.1 If you’re not a dependent, your tax return is used.
Will You Stay on Your Parent’s Plan or Enroll in Your Own Plan?
If you continue coverage through a parent’s insurance, make sure the plan’s network includes healthcare providers near your school. You may want to investigate enrolling in your own plan either way because student coverage may be more affordable.
Will You Be a Part-Time or Full-Time Student?
Your enrollment status could determine your eligibility for a student health insurance plan. Some schools extend coverage to both part- and full-time students; others don’t.
What If You Get Covered Under Your Parent’s Plan in Idaho?
Maintaining coverage through a parent can be convenient and affordable. Federal law allows this until you turn 26, even if you are:2
- Not living with your parent(s).
- Attending school.
- Not financially dependent on your parent(s).
- Eligible to enroll in your employer’s plan.
This usually makes the most sense if you’re enrolled in a college or university close to home. Factors to consider include 1) your plan’s network, 2) whether a more affordable option exists, and 3) school requirements.
What If You Get Covered Under Your School Plan in Idaho?
Many Idaho schools offer student health insurance plans. These policies typically provide 1) comprehensive benefits, 2) low premiums rolled into your tuition, and 3) plan networks that include on-campus care if your school has a student health center.
Student health insurance can be a good fit if you 1) are uninsured, 2) want a less expensive policy than you currently have, or 3) need a network with local providers.
What If You Get Covered Through the Affordable Care Act in Idaho?
An ACA plan may be cost-effective if you qualify for premium subsidies. This comprehensive coverage includes the 10 essential health benefits and is considered a “guaranteed issue,” which means you’ll qualify regardless of your health history, age, gender, and other factors.
You may decide on an ACA plan if you:
- Have ongoing health concerns and/or take prescription medications.
- Buy your own insurance and have a lower income.
- Need a plan with an Idaho provider network.
- Don’t have access to student coverage through your school.
You can find Idaho ACA plans through private online marketplaces or Your Health Idaho, the state’s Health Insurance Marketplace.
What If You Get Covered Through Medicaid or CHIP in Idaho?
If you’re already enrolled in Idaho Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), you can keep your coverage as long as you’re eligible. This might be your most affordable option, but make sure you have access to healthcare providers who accept these benefits throughout the school year.
Medicaid and CHIP don’t typically transfer between states. You’ll need to apply for coverage through the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare.
What Are Other Coverage Options in Idaho?
Two additional options that can work for students include catastrophic and short-term health insurance plans. They tend to have lower premiums than unsubsidized ACA plans, which can be especially appealing if you buy your own coverage. However, they aren’t right for everyone due to their eligibility requirements and more limited benefits.
Catastrophic Health Plan
Designed for people under 30 and others with hardship and affordability exemptions,
catastrophic health insurance provides comprehensive coverage with a low monthly premium. However, these plans have high deductibles, making them a better fit for people who don’t have many healthcare needs.
If you qualify, catastrophic health plans will appear among your options at Your Health Idaho. Catastrophic plans are not eligible for subsidies.
Short-Term Health Insurance
Because benefits for short-term plans center around unexpected healthcare needs rather than preventive care or preexisting conditions, they tend to cost less than unsubsidized ACA plans.
This option 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 without a student health insurance program.
- Need coverage for only a few months.
You can get short-term coverage online or through an agent. Policies are not a “guaranteed issue,” which means you can be denied if you have any preexisting conditions.
What If You Skip Health Insurance in Idaho?
Idaho doesn’t impose a state tax penalty for going without health insurance. However, without coverage, you’ll be expected to pay for healthcare entirely out of pocket.
What Are State-Specific Rules for Idaho Students?
There aren’t statewide coverage requirements for Idaho students. Colleges and universities set their own rules.
What Are School Requirements in Idaho?
Check with your school to learn its coverage requirements. Below, you will find examples from two of Idaho’s largest universities:
Boise State University
Boise State University requires domestic and international students to have health insurance.4 All international students registered for one credit or more, who are not on government sponsorship, are automatically enrolled in the school’s international student health insurance plan.
Domestic students must find their own coverage. University Health Services bills most insurance carriers; check with yours to be sure it’s in-network.
Brigham Young University–Idaho
During the academic year, Brigham Young University–Idaho requires all students to have adequate medical coverage in the Rexburg area, which is where the school is located.5 This policy includes international students.
Students will be automatically enrolled in the BYU-Idaho student health plan unless they have an acceptable substitute and fill out an online waiver form at the time of registration. Spouses and children may be eligible for the plan, but won’t be automatically enrolled.
What Are Resources for Idaho Students?
Your school’s website can be a good starting point for guidance on health insurance requirements and student health plans. It should also provide information about COVID-19 policies for masking and vaccinations.
Even if you think you know which health insurance coverage is right for you, compare a few options to be sure. At this point, you might also look into supplemental health insurance to help with out-of-pocket costs not covered by your primary plan.
Contact the insurance company that offers the plan you’re considering if you have questions while you shop.