What You Need to Know
Indiana state law doesn’t require students to have health insurance, but schools might have their own mandates.
Colleges may offer student university health plans, which may or may not be voluntary, depending on your enrollment status and school requirements.
You can stay on a parent’s health plan until you turn 26, but make sure it covers healthcare providers near your school.
As you plan for college, think about how you’ll pay for healthcare and the medical benefits you might need while there. Fortunately, Indiana students have several health insurance options. We’ll explore the most common ones here.
Why Do Indiana Students Need Health Insurance?
Students need to see a doctor from time to time. Even if you don’t have ongoing healthcare concerns, you might have unexpected illnesses and injuries. Health insurance helps lessen what you pay out of pocket for covered medical care.
What Should You Consider When Searching for Student Health Coverage in Indiana?
Shopping for health insurance can feel overwhelming. Start by answering the following:
- What are your healthcare needs and budget?
- Do you have ongoing health concerns?
- What prescription medications do you take?
- What do you consider an affordable monthly premium?
- What can you realistically contribute to cost-sharing amounts (deductible, coinsurance, copayment)?
Next, consider the following circumstances:
Your school’s website may be a helpful starting point to learn more about its student health insurance coverage.
Will You Attend School In State or Out of State?
If you’re from Indiana and stay there for school, you might want to keep your existing coverage. See if your plan’s network includes medical providers where your college or university is located. If it doesn’t, is it convenient to travel home when you need healthcare?
If you move to Indiana to attend school, you will probably be outside your existing health plan’s network. Not all policies cover out-of-network care, and when they do, they usually charge you more out of pocket for it. With this in mind, you’ll probably want to find new coverage.
Can Someone Claim You as a Dependent?
The Affordable Care Act (ACA) makes premium tax credits and cost-sharing reductions available to those within certain income guidelines. Your status as a dependent could impact your eligibility for these subsidies.
If others can claim you as a dependent on their tax return, all income included on that return is used to determine your subsidy. 1 If you are 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’re thinking about staying on a parent’s health plan, make sure it covers doctors and hospitals where you attend school. Even if it does, investigate enrolling in
your own coverage because less expensive options might be available to you as a student.
Will You Be a Part-Time or Full-Time Student?
Your enrollment status may determine whether you qualify for school-sponsored health insurance. Some colleges and universities extend eligibility to part-time and full-time students, while others do not.
Check with your institution to see what credit requirements are in place. If you are not eligible for a student health plan as a part-time student, consider enrolling in an ACA plan or getting coverage through a parent.
What If You Get Covered Under Your Parent’s Plan in Indiana?
Coverage through your mom or dad can be affordable and convenient. Federal law allows you to do so until you turn 26, regardless of whether you’re 1) in college, 2) living at home, 3) eligible for your own job-based coverage, 4) financially dependent, or 5) married. 2
This option might make the most sense if you’re enrolled in a school close to home. Factors that can help you decide to include 1) your plan’s network, 2) whether you find a more affordable coverage option, and 3) whether your coverage meets school requirements (if there are any).
What If You Get Covered Under Your School Plan in Indiana?
You might be able to enroll in a student health insurance plan through your college or university. This coverage typically provides 1) comprehensive benefits, 2) low premiums that may be rolled into your tuition, and 3) provider networks that include on-campus care if your school offers student health services.
A student health plan could be a good fit if you’re 1) uninsured, 2) want coverage that’s less expensive than what you have now, or 3) need insurance with an Indiana provider network.
What If You Get Covered Through the Affordable Care Act in Indiana?
An ACA plan can be a cost-effective choice if you qualify for subsidies. This comprehensive coverage includes the 10 essential health benefits and is considered a “guaranteed issue,” which means you’ll qualify for a policy regardless of your health history, age, gender, and other factors.
You may decide to enroll in an ACA plan if you:
- Need to see a doctor on a regular basis and/or take prescription drugs.
- Buy your own health insurance and have a lower income.
- Need coverage with an Indiana provider network.
- Don’t have access to a student health insurance plan through your school.
You can enroll in an ACA plan through the federal Health Insurance Marketplace. Moving to and from school is a qualifying life event that makes you eligible for special enrollment, a limited time in which you can purchase coverage outside of the annual open enrollment period. 3
If you are a dependent who comes to Indiana from another state to attend school, you and your parent(s) must 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 is a factor in your subsidy eligibility. 4
Catastrophic and short-term health insurance are two options that might work for you.
What If You Get Covered Through Medicaid or CHIP in Indiana?
If you already have coverage through Indiana Medicaid or Hoosier Healthwise, which includes Indiana’s Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), you can keep it if you meet eligibility requirements. It’s probably your most affordable option.
However, if your school has a campus health center, verify that it accepts these benefits. If it doesn’t, locate nearby medical providers who do, or see if you can afford coverage through your school.
Medicaid and CHIP don’t usually transfer from one state to another. If you’re enrolled in one of these programs elsewhere, you’ll need to meet program requirements and reapply for coverage in Indiana.
What Are Other Options for Coverage in Indiana?
Catastrophic and short-term health insurance plans are additional coverage options that might work for you. They tend to have lower premiums than unsubsidized ACA plans, which can make them especially appealing if you buy your own coverage.
However, these plans aren’t right for everyone because of their eligibility requirements and more limited benefits.
Catastrophic Health Plan
Catastrophic health insurance provides comprehensive coverage with a low monthly premium to people under 30 and others with hardship and affordability exemptions. Due to their high deductibles, these plans tend to make the most sense for people with minimal healthcare needs.
Catastrophic plans appear among your options at the federal Health Insurance Marketplace if you qualify for them. They 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 1) don’t have access to coverage through a parent, 2) can’t afford an unsubsidized ACA plan, 3) attend a school that doesn’t offer a student plan, or 4) need coverage for only a month or two.
Because benefits center around unexpected healthcare needs, as opposed to preventive services and treatment for pre-existing conditions, short-term plans tend to cost less than unsubsidized ACA plans.
Indiana short-term health insurance policies can last up to 364 days, with renewals up to 36 months. 5 State law also requires short-term policies to have an annual coverage limit of at least $2 million and include coverage for outpatient, hospitalization, emergency, and laboratory services.
What If You Skip Health Insurance in Indiana?
A federal tax penalty for going without health insurance no longer exists. While some states impose a state tax penalty, Indiana is not one of them. Penalties aside, you’ll pay for your healthcare entirely out of pocket if you go without coverage.
What Are State-Specific Rules for Indiana Students?
Indiana schools, both public and private, set their own student health insurance requirements.
What Are School Requirements in Indiana?
For the most part, Indiana colleges and universities do not require domestic (U.S.) undergraduate students to have health insurance but do encourage it. As an example, here are highlights from two of the state’s largest schools:
Indiana University doesn’t have a school-wide health insurance mandate for all students. 6
International students and domestic students enrolled in certain professional programs (e.g., IU School of Optometry, IU School of Medicine, IU School of Dentistry) are required to have coverage and are automatically enrolled in the university’s student health plan.
Graduate students with a graduate appointment or fellowship award may also be eligible for coverage.
Voluntary enrollment in the school plan is not available to other full- or part-time students.
Purdue University does not require domestic students to have health insurance; however, an optional student plan is available to students at the school’s West Lafayette and Statewide Technology campuses. 7 Full-time students are eligible for this plan during the 2020-21 school year, regardless of whether courses are taken on campus or online. 8
Purdue doesn’t offer a coverage option for part-time students.
International students are required to enroll in the school’s health insurance plan.
Keep in mind that requirements vary by school and may change from year to year. Check with your institution to learn about deadlines and coverage rules during your time of enrollment, or ask additional questions.
What Are Resources for Indiana Students
Visit your school’s website as a good starting point to learn more about its student health insurance. It should also provide your institution’s COVID-19 safety protocols and requirements, such as mask and vaccination mandates.
To research individual health insurance options available in Indiana, including ACA plans, catastrophic plans and Medicaid, visit the federal Health Insurance Marketplace. There, you can determine if you’re eligible for a subsidy and see what coverage is available to you.
The Indiana Department of Insurance provides consumer information related to selecting health insurance and a health insurance company, filing complaints about healthcare providers and insurers, and more.
Even if you think you know which coverage is best for you, it is helpful to compare a few options.
Gather quotes for different types of coverage, such as 1) your parent’s plan, 2) your school’s plan and 3) an ACA plan.
Look at 1) premiums, 2) cost-sharing amounts, 3) plan benefits and exclusions, and 4) provider networks to determine which coverage could best meet your needs in the upcoming school year.
If you have questions along the way, contact the insurance company that offers the plan you’re considering. You can also find local help through the federal Health Insurance Marketplace.