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What Are Health Insurance Options for Oregon Students?

HealthCare Writer

Updated on July 1st, 2021

At, we want to make health insurance easy to understand so you can make better decisions. This post may have links to lead generation forms or direct you to our trusted insurance brokers, which is how we make money. However, this will not influence our writing.

What You Need to Know

Oregon law doesn’t require students to have health insurance, but some schools do.

Many colleges and universities offer a student health plan, and some will automatically enroll full-time students in it. You may be able to waive coverage.

You can remain on your parent’s health insurance until you turn 26, but you’ll need to make sure it includes doctors and hospitals where you attend school.

Why Do Oregon Students Need Health Insurance? 

Everyone needs to visit a doctor from time to time. Health insurance helps pay for covered medical services, including prevent care, and treatment for unforeseen injuries and illnesses. Without it, you will have to pay out of pocket for all of your healthcare. 

What to Consider When Searching for Student Health Coverage in Oregon

As you begin to weigh your coverage options, consider your budget and healthcare needs. Do you have preexisting health conditions that require ongoing care? Do you take prescription medications? What can you afford in terms of both premiums and cost-sharing (deductible, coinsurance, copay) amounts? Some additional questions to help guide you include: 

Will You Attend School In State or Out of State?

If you’re from Oregon and stay there to attend school, you may want to keep your existing coverage. Just be sure that your plan’s network includes local providers or that you will be able to make a trip home when you need healthcare.

If you’re coming to Oregon from out of state, you’ll probably want to look for new coverage. It’s likely you will be out of your current plan’s provider network, which means healthcare you receive while at school may not be covered or you will pay more out of pocket for it.

Can Someone Claim You as a Dependent? 

Under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), tax credits for premiums and cost-sharing reductions are available. These subsidies are income-based, and your status as a dependent may impact your eligibility for them.

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, only the income included on your own tax return will be used. 

Will You Stay on Your Parent’s Plan or Enroll in Your Own Plan? 

It may be convenient and affordable to keep coverage through a parent. That said, you’ll probably want to enroll in your own plan if it doesn’t cover doctors and hospitals where you attend school. And even if it does, you may want to look into your own plan because less expensive options may be available to you as a student.

Network Advice

Oregon residents may be able to keep their current health insurance coverage if local providers near their school are in their network, but students coming from out of state will likely want to find a new plan.

What If You Get Covered Under Your Parent’s Plan in Oregon? 

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

This option tends to work best for students enrolled in a school close to home. Again, the decision will likely come down to the plan’s healthcare provider network and whether or not you find a more affordable option.

What If You Get Covered Under Your School Plan in Oregon? 

Your college or university may offer a student health insurance plan. This coverage — designed with student health, finances, and convenience in mind — likely has 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.

Student plans can be a good option if you’re uninsured, want coverage that’s less expensive than what you have now, or need coverage with an Oregon provider network.

What If You Get Covered Through the Affordable Care Act in Oregon? 

ACA plans can be cost-effective if you qualify for subsidies. Not only do they provide comprehensive coverage, including the 10 essential health benefits, but they are also guaranteed issue (you can’t be denied coverage if you have preexisting conditions). 

This option usually makes the most sense 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 Oregon network.

If you’re a dependent who comes from out of state to attend school in Oregon, you and your parent(s) will need to 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 will still factor into your subsidy eligibility.2

Pros of an ACA Plan

Affordable Care Act plans provide comprehensive coverage, can’t deny you coverage because of preexisting conditions and can be cost-effective if you qualify for subsidies.

What If You Get Covered Through Medicaid or CHIP in Oregon? 

If you’re already covered through the Oregon Health Plan, which includes the state’s Medicaid program and Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), then you can probably continue coverage for as long as you’re eligible. You may want to see if your campus health center accepts these benefits. 

Medicaid and CHIP benefits typically don’t transfer from one state to another. If you are enrolled in one of these programs in a different state, you’ll need to reapply for coverage in Oregon.

What Are Other Options for Coverage in Oregon?

Catastrophic and short-term health insurance plans are two additional coverage options that can work for students. You may find they have lower premiums than unsubsidized ACA plans, but they aren’t a good fit for everyone.

Catastrophic Health Plan

Catastrophic health insurance is designed for people under age 30 and others with hardship and affordability exemptions. These plans include all of the 10 essential health benefits and have low monthly premiums. However, they also have high deductibles, which makes them a better fit for individuals without a lot of healthcare needs.

If you qualify, catastrophic plans will appear among your options when you look for coverage through the federal Health Insurance Marketplace. They don’t qualify for subsidies.

Short-Term Health Insurance

Short-term health insurance is a temporary solution that can work well for college students who can’t afford an unsubsidized ACA plan, don’t have access to coverage through a parent, attend a school that doesn’t offer a student plan, or need coverage for a month or two. Benefits for these plans center around unexpected healthcare, as opposed to preventive services and ongoing medical concerns. For this reason, short-term plans tend to cost less than unsubsidized ACA plans.

In Oregon, short-term policies can last up to three months and renewals are not allowed within 60 days of the date a policy ends.3 You can buy short-term plans online or through an agent. Keep in mind that coverage isn’t a guaranteed issue, which means you can be denied if you have preexisting conditions.

What If You Skip Health Insurance in Oregon? 

There is no longer a federal tax penalty for going without health insurance, and Oregon does not impose a state penalty. Penalties aside, you will need to pay for healthcare on your own if you don’t have health insurance. 

What Are State-Specific Rules for Oregon Students? 

Oregon colleges and universities can decide if student health insurance policies are mandatory for some or all students.4 If it is mandatory, students who have similar insurance coverage may be allowed to fill out a waiver application.

What Are School Requirements in Oregon? 

Oregon schools, both public and private, set their own rules for students and health insurance. Here are some highlights from two of the states largest colleges and universities:

Portland Community College 

Portland Community College doesn’t offer a student health plan for domestic (U.S.) students or require them to have coverage.5 It enrolls all international students on an F-1 visa in a student health plan and does not accept waivers.6

University of Oregon 

The University of Oregon doesn’t require health insurance for domestic students; however, all international students are automatically enrolled in the Student Health Benefits Plan each semester unless they have an approved waiver on file.7 Other students may choose to sign up for this plan.8  

What Are Resources for Oregon Students? 

Your school’s website may be a good starting point for learning more about student health insurance; some colleges and universities also provide information about other coverage options.

The Oregon Health Insurance Marketplace, the state’s health insurance information portal, is another place to begin. Here you can find local help and learn more about coverage, as well as start an application, at which point you will be transferred to the federal Health Insurance Marketplace. You can apply for the Oregon Health Plan and learn more about it through the Oregon Health Authority.

Next Steps

Now that you know the range of options available to you as a student, it’s time to narrow them down. You’ll want to gather details about the costs, benefits and provider networks for the types of coverage you’re considering. If you have questions about specific plans, contact the insurance companies that offer them. 

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  1. U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. “About the ACA: Young Adult Coverage.” (accessed February 2021).

  2. U.S. Government Website for the Federal Health Insurance Exchange. “In school? Student health plans & other options.” (accessed February 2021).

  3. State of Oregon, Division of Financial Regulation. “Guidance for Short-Term Health Insurance.” (accessed February 2021).

  4. “ORS 743.55 Student Health Insurance.” 2020 ORS, Vol. 18, Chapter 743, Section 743.550 (accessed February 2021).

  5. Portland Community College. “Student Resources: Health Services and Insurance.” (accessed February 2021).

  6. Portland Community College. “International Students.” (accessed February 2021).

  7. University of Oregon. University Health Services. “FAQs.” (accessed February 2021).

  8. University of Oregon. University Health Services. “Health Insurance.” (accessed February 2021).