What You Need to Know
Louisiana does not mandate health insurance coverage, but your school might.
You can stay on a parent’s health insurance until you turn 26, but make sure it includes network providers where you attend school.
Some Louisiana colleges and universities offer student health insurance plans.
If you plan to attend college in Louisiana, you have several choices for health insurance during the school year. Common options include:
- Parent’s policy.
- Student coverage.
- Affordable Care Act plans.
- Medicaid or Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP).
- Catastrophic coverage.
- Short-term plans.
Learn more below.
Why Do Louisiana Students Need Health Insurance?
Health insurance lowers your out-of-pocket costs for covered medical expenses, from illness prevention to emergency care.
What Should You Consider When Searching for Student Health Coverage in Louisiana?
First, answer these questions:
- 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)?
Visit your school’s website to learn more about its student health insurance requirements and coverage.
Then, consider the following:
Will You Attend School In or Out of State?
If you live in Louisiana and plan to stay there, you can probably keep your current coverage. Make sure the plan’s network includes doctors and hospitals near your school.
If you move to Louisiana, you’ll probably be out of your current plan’s network. Many health insurance policies charge you more for out-of-network care, if they cover it at all.
Can Someone Claim You as a Dependent?
The Affordable Care Act (ACA) makes subsidies available to pay for health insurance. 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 maintain coverage through your parent’s insurance, make sure the plan network includes healthcare providers near your school. But investigate enrolling in your own plan as you may find student coverage more affordable.
Will You Be a Part-Time or Full-Time Student?
Your enrollment status could affect your eligibility for a student health insurance plan. Some schools extend coverage to both part- and full-time students; others do not.
Catastrophic and short-term health insurance are other types of coverage that might work for you.
What If You Get Covered Under Your Parent’s Plan in Louisiana?
It can be affordable and convenient to stay on a parent’s plan. Federal law allows this until you turn 26, even if you’re:
- Not living with your parents.
- Attending school.
- Not financially dependent on your parents.
- Eligible to enroll in your employer’s plan.2
This may make the most sense if you’re enrolled in a school close to home. Factors to consider are: 1) your plan’s network, 2) is there a more affordable option and 3) does your coverage meet school requirements (if there are any).
What If You Get Covered Under Your School Plan in Louisiana?
Some Louisiana schools offer student health insurance. 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 offers student health services.
A student insurance plan can be a good fit if you 1) are uninsured, 2) want a less-expensive policy than your current policy or 3) need a network that includes local providers.
What If You Get Covered Through the Affordable Care Act in Louisiana?
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 “guaranteed issue,” which means you’ll qualify regardless of your health history, age, gender and other factors.
You may opt for 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 a Louisiana provider network.
- Don’t have access to a student health insurance plan through your school.
Louisiana ACA plans are available through the federal Health Insurance Marketplace or private online marketplaces
What If You Get Covered Through Medicaid or CHIP in Louisiana?
If you are enrolled in Louisiana Medicaid or LaCHIP, you can keep coverage as long as you meet eligibility requirements. This might be your most affordable option, but make sure you have access to healthcare providers on or near campus who accept these benefits.
Medicaid and CHIP don’t usually transfer between states. If you’re enrolled elsewhere, you need to apply for coverage through the Louisiana Department of Health.
What Are Other Coverage Options in Louisiana?
Catastrophic and short-term health insurance plans can also be attractive options if you buy your own coverage.
Catastrophic Health Plan
Catastrophic health insurance provides comprehensive coverage to people under 30 and others with hardship and affordability exemptions. These plans have low monthly premiums and high deductibles. They usually make sense for people without many healthcare needs.
If you qualify, catastrophic plans appear among your options through the federal Health Insurance Marketplace. They’re not eligible for subsidies.
Short-Term Health Insurance
Short-term health insurance plans provide temporary coverage. Louisiana short-term policies default to the federal limit — 364 days, with renewals up to 36 months.3 However, the state places restrictions on how insurers can treat pre-existing conditions on short-term policies. For policies six months or longer, insurers can look at your medical history up to 12 months before the effective date.4 They may look back further for shorter policies.
Short-term plans often cost less than unsubsidized ACA plans because benefits focus on unexpected healthcare, rather than preventive services and treatment of pre-existing conditions.
This coverage tends to 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.
- Need coverage for only a month or two.
You can quickly get short-term coverage online or through a health insurance agent. These policies are not “guaranteed issue.”
What If You Skip Health Insurance in Louisiana?
Some states impose a tax penalty for going without health insurance, but Louisiana does not. Without coverage, however, you will be expected to pay for your medical care entirely out of pocket.
What Are State-Specific Rules for Louisiana Students
Louisiana’s colleges and universities make their own health insurance rules, which vary by institution.
What Are School Requirements in Louisiana?
Check with your school to learn about its coverage requirements. Here are examples from two of Louisiana’s largest universities:
Louisiana State University
Louisiana State University automatically enrolls all non-immigrant, international students in F-1 and J-1 visa status in a university-sponsored student health insurance plan.5
University of Louisiana at Lafayette
The University of Louisiana at Lafayette does not require domestic students to have health insurance, but it’s “highly recommended.”8
The school automatically enrolls international students in a university-sponsored plan.9 This plan isn’t available to domestic students; however, the school does offer an accident-only policy intended as secondary coverage.10
What Are Resources for Louisiana Students?
Your school’s website is a good starting point for guidance on health insurance requirements and student coverage. It should also provide institutional COVID-19 safety protocols and guidelines, such as mask and vaccination requirements.
The Louisiana Department of Insurance provides basic information about health insurance, resources for the uninsured, and more.
Even if you think you know which health insurance coverage is right for you, compare a few options to be sure. Also, look into supplemental health insurance to help with out-of-pocket costs not covered by your primary plan.
If you have questions, contact the insurance company that offers the plan you’re considering.