What You Need to Know
Missouri law does not require students to have health insurance; however, some schools do.
You can stay on your parent’s health plan until you turn 26, but you’ll want to make sure it covers care where you attend school.
Many of Missouri colleges and universities offer a student health insurance plan — cost-effective, student-focused coverage that can be used where you attend school.
As you plan for college, don’t forget to include health insurance. Not only do many schools require students to have it, you’ll also need it to help pay for healthcare. Missouri college students have many coverage options available to them, and we’ll explore them here.
Why Do Missouri Students Need Health Insurance?
Health insurance can seem like a low priority, especially if you’re young and healthy. Still, everyone needs to see a doctor from time to time, whether to stay on top of preventive care, monitor an existing health condition, or treat an unexpected injury or illness. Health insurance helps pay for covered medical bills, which you would otherwise pay entirely out of pocket.
Public and private colleges and universities in Missouri set their own rules regarding student health insurance. Washington University, for example, mandates comprehensive coverage for all students.
What to Consider When Searching for Student Health Coverage in Missouri
Your healthcare needs and budget will largely determine what coverage is right 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 are from Missouri and continue your education there, it could make sense to keep your existing health insurance. Check with your plan’s provider network to be sure care is covered in the community where you attend school. Otherwise, you may need to travel home to see an in-network doctor.
If you are from another state and attend school in Missouri, you may be outside your existing plan’s provider network. Your policy may not cover out-of-network care or will charge you more for it. If that’s the case, it probably makes sense to look into other coverage.
Can Someone Claim You as a Dependent?
You may qualify for subsidies if you enroll in coverage through the federal Health Insurance Marketplace. However, your status as a dependent will impact your eligibility for subsidies.
If someone else can claim you as a dependent on their tax return, all income included on that return will be used to determine your subsidy. If you are not a dependent, the income included on your tax return will determine your subsidy.
Will You Stay on Your Parent’s Plan or Enroll in Your Own Plan?
It can be convenient to maintain coverage through your mom or dad, especially if your family considers it affordable. However, as mentioned above, you could be outside your plan’s provider network. If so, you may want to find your own plan.
What If You Get Covered Under Your Parent’s Plan in Missouri?
You can stay on a parent’s health insurance plan 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
While this can be an affordable choice, it’s not always the right one. Again, you’ll want to be sure your plan’s provider network includes doctors and hospitals where you attend school.
What If You Get Covered Under Your School Plan in Missouri?
Many schools offer student health insurance plans designed with student health, finances, and convenience in mind, with comprehensive benefits, low premiums that are usually rolled into your tuition, and networks that include on-campus care (if your school has a health center).
A student health plan can be a good fit if you’re uninsured, want coverage that’s less expensive than what you have now, or need coverage with a Missouri provider network. Some plans may be offered only to full-time students, so you’ll want to see if your school has credit hour requirements. You’ll also want to be aware of enrollment deadlines, which may be the start of fall semester.
A student health plan can be a good fit if you’re uninsured, if you want coverage that’s less expensive than your current plan, or if you need coverage with a Missouri provider network.
What If You Get Covered Through the Affordable Care Act in Missouri?
Individual health insurance plans sold through the federal Health Insurance Marketplace can also work well for college students. Under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), these plans provide comprehensive coverage, including the 10 essential health benefits, and are guaranteed issue, which means you qualify regardless of preexisting conditions. When you enroll in an ACA plan through the Marketplace, you may also be eligible for subsidies that help lower your premium and cost-sharing payments.
ACA plans can work for students who:
- Need to see a doctor routinely and/or take prescription drug(s).
- Buy their own health insurance and have a lower income.
- Need coverage with a Missouri network.
If you’re a dependent who comes from another state to attend school in Missouri, you and your parent(s) will need to fill out separate 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
What If You Get Covered Through Medicaid or CHIP in Missouri?
If you have Medicaid or CHIP (Children’s Health Insurance Program) benefits from another state, your coverage won’t transfer and you will need to apply for MO HealthNet, Missouri’s Medicaid program.
In 2020, Missourians voted for Medicaid expansion, which means eligibility criteria will broaden to include all adults with incomes below 138% of the federal poverty level.3 Expansion coverage begins July 1, 2021. Until then, you must qualify based on existing criteria and can apply through the Missouri Department of Social Services.
MO HealthNet for Kids is Missouri’s CHIP. You must live in Missouri, be age 18 or younger to qualify and meet household size and income requirements.4 You can learn more from the Missouri Department of Social Services.
What Are Other Options for Coverage in Missouri?
You may also want to look into catastrophic and short-term health insurance plans. These options tend to have lower premiums than unsubsidized ACA plans, but they aren’t right for everyone due to factors such as eligibility and cost.
Catastrophic Health Plan
Catastrophic health insurance provides comprehensive coverage, including the ACA’s 10 essential health benefits, to individuals under the age of 30 and others with hardship and affordability exemptions. While premiums for these plans tend to be low, deductibles are high.
Catastrophic plans cover certain no-cost preventive services and at least three primary care visits per year before you meet your deductible; otherwise, you will have to pay for most care out of pocket until you reach it.
If you qualify, catastrophic plans will be among your plan options when you apply for coverage through the federal Health Insurance Marketplace. They don’t qualify for subsidies.
Short-Term Health Insurance
Short-term health insurance can be an affordable option for college students who don’t have coverage through a parent, can’t afford an unsubsidized ACA plan, and attend a school that doesn’t offer a student plan. This temporary coverage is designed to cover unforeseen medical care, as opposed to ongoing care for existing conditions. For this reason, short-term plans tend to cost less than unsubsidized ACA plans.
Short-term plans aren’t subject to the ACA. They do not include all of the essential health benefits and are not guaranteed issue, which means you can be denied if you have preexisting conditions.
What If You Skip Health Insurance in Missouri?
There’s no longer a federal tax penalty for going without minimum essential coverage — health insurance that meets ACA requirements.6 Some states have decided to impose their own penalty, but Missouri is not one of them.
What Are State-Specific Rules for Missouri Students?
Missouri doesn’t have any state-specific rules for students and health insurance.
What Are School Requirements in Missouri?
Missouri colleges and universities, both public and private, set their own rules for student health insurance. Here is a brief overview of policies at some of the state’s largest public and private institutions:
University of Missouri (MU)
MU doesn’t have a health insurance requirement for domestic students, but the school encourages uninsured students to purchase the university-sponsored plan.7 International students will be automatically enrolled in it.8
Uninsured students who can’t enroll in a school plan or other coverage may be eligible for financial assistance when they use the MU Student Health Center.9
Washington University (WashU)
WashU mandates comprehensive coverage and automatically enrolls students in a university-sponsored health plan.10 Domestic students may be able to waive the plan if they have adequate coverage; however, international students cannot unless they have a US-based employer plan through a US-based insurance company.11
What Are Resources for Missouri Students?
You’ll want to gather some information to help you compare your coverage options, and your school’s website may be a good place to begin. There, you should be able to find information about coverage requirements, school health plans, student health services and more.
The federal Health Insurance Marketplace can be another starting point. That’s where you can calculate your estimated subsidy amount and see which ACA plans are available to you. If you want more information about MO HealthNet and MO HealthNet Kids, you can visit the Missouri Department of Social Services website.
The Missouri Department of Insurance provides some information about shopping for coverage and also includes a way to search for an agent or insurance company.
Now that you’ve got an idea of the student health insurance coverage options in Missouri, it’s time to decide which is right for you. To narrow your options, gather information about the costs, benefits, and provider networks for the types of coverage you’re considering. If you have questions along the way, contact the health insurance company that offers the plan you’re considering or find help through the federal marketplace.