What You Need to Know
Michigan doesn’t mandate health insurance, but your college might.
You can stay on your parent’s health plan until you turn 26, but make sure it covers healthcare providers near your school.
Some Michigan schools offer a student health insurance plan, which may also be available to spouses and dependents.
As you plan for college, consider how you’ll pay for healthcare. Michigan students have several health insurance coverage options, including:
- A parent’s policy.
- Student coverage.
- Affordable Care Act (ACA) plans.
- Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP).
- Catastrophic coverage.
- Short-term plans.
We’ll explore these choices below.
Why Do Michigan Students Need Health Insurance?
Health insurance lessens what you pay out of pocket for covered medical expenses, from preventive to emergency care.
What Should You Consider When Searching for Student Health Coverage in Michigan?
First, consider the following:
- Do you have ongoing health concerns?
- What prescription drugs do you take?
- What do you consider an affordable monthly premium?
- What can you realistically contribute to cost-sharing amounts (deductible, coinsurance, copayment)?
Then, answer these questions:
Will You Attend School In or Out of State?
If you’re a Michigan resident attending school in-state, you can probably keep your existing coverage. Be sure your plan network includes healthcare providers on or near campus.
You’ll probably be out of your current plan’s network if you move to Michigan. 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 makes health insurance subsidies available, including premium tax credits and cost-sharing reductions. Your dependency status can affect your eligibility.
If a parent or someone else claims 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 own return determines your subsidy.
Will You Stay on Your Parent’s Plan or Enroll in Your Own Plan?
If you stay on your parent’s health insurance, make sure the plan network includes doctors and hospitals near your school. However, you may find student coverage more affordable and opt to enroll in your own plan.
Will You Be a Part-Time or Full-Time Student?
Your enrollment status could affect your eligibility for student health insurance, so check your school’s minimum requirements for course credits. Some extend coverage to both part- and full-time students; others do not.
What If You Get Covered Under Your Parent’s Plan in Michigan?
Maintaining coverage through your parent’s health plan might be convenient. Federal law allows this until you turn 26, even if you are:2
- Not living with your parents.
- Attending school.
- Not financially dependent on your parents.
- Eligible to enroll in your employer’s plan.
Having healthcare coverage under your parent’s plan can make sense if you attend school close to home. Considerations include 1) your plan’s network, 2) if there’s a more affordable option and 3) any school requirements.
What If You Get Covered Under Your School Plan in Michigan?
Many Michigan 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 it.
A student health plan 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.
Visit your school’s website to learn more about its student health insurance rules and coverage.
What If You Get Covered Through the Affordable Care Act in Michigan?
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 regardless of your health history, age, gender, and other factors.
You may opt for an ACA plan if you:
- Have ongoing health concerns and/or take prescription medications.
- Buy your own coverage and have a lower income.
- Need coverage with a Michigan provider network.
- Don’t have access to a student health insurance plan through your school.
You can find Michigan ACA plans through the federal Health Insurance Marketplace or private online marketplaces.
What If You Get Covered Through Medicaid or CHIP in Michigan?
If you’re enrolled in a Michigan Medicaid program, including the Healthy Michigan Plan or MIChild, the state’s Children’s Health Insurance Program, you can keep your coverage as long as you’re eligible. This might be an affordable option, but make sure you have access to healthcare providers who accept these benefits.
Medicaid and CHIP don’t usually transfer between states. You’ll need to apply for coverage through the Michigan Department of Health & Human Services.
What Are Other Coverage Options in Michigan?
You might find catastrophic and short-term health insurance plans attractive. They usually have lower premiums than unsubsidized ACA plans; however, not everyone qualifies for coverage.
Catastrophic Health Plan
Catastrophic health insurance provides comprehensive coverage to people under 30 and others with hardship and affordability exemptions. These plans have relatively low monthly premiums and a high annual deductible. They often make sense if you have few healthcare needs.
If you qualify, catastrophic plans appear among your options through the federal Health Insurance Marketplace. They are not subsidy-eligible.
Short-Term Health Insurance
Because their benefits focus on unexpected healthcare rather than preventive services or treatment of preexisting conditions, short-term plans often cost less than unsubsidized ACA plans.
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 few months.
You can quickly get short-term coverage online or through a health insurance agent. These policies are not a “guaranteed issue.”
Short-term or catastrophic health insurance coverage can be cost-effective choices if you qualify.
What If You Skip Health Insurance in Michigan?
The state of Michigan doesn’t impose a tax penalty for going without health insurance. However, you will be expected to pay for your healthcare entirely out of pocket.
What Are State-Specific Rules for Michigan Students?
Michigan’s colleges and universities set their own health insurance rules.
What Are School Requirements in Michigan?
Requirements vary by school, so check with yours for complete details. Here are some high-level examples from Michigan’s two largest universities:
Michigan State University
Michigan State University offers a student health insurance plan, which is available on a voluntary basis to domestic students as well as their spouses and dependents.4 International students are automatically enrolled.
University of Michigan
The University of Michigan offers a voluntary student health insurance plan to domestic students enrolled at the Ann Arbor, Dearborn, or Flint campuses, as well as for their spouses and dependents.5
The school automatically enrolls F-1 and J-1 visa students in an international student and scholar health insurance plan.6
What Are Resources for Michigan Students?
Your school’s website is a good starting point for guidance on health insurance requirements and student coverage, including enrollment deadlines. It should also provide institutional COVID-19 safety protocols and guidelines, such as mask and vaccination requirements.
The Michigan Department of Health & Human Services provides information and resources on other health coverage.
Even if you think you know which health insurance coverage is best for you, compare your options to be sure. Also, look into supplemental health insurance to help with out-of-pocket costs your primary plan doesn’t cover.
If you have questions, contact the insurance company that offers the plan you’re considering.