What You Need to Know
Students are not required to have health insurance under Utah law, but some colleges and universities do mandate coverage.
You can maintain coverage through a parent until you turn 26, but you’ll want to make sure it covers healthcare providers where you attend school.
Your school may offer a student health plan, which may be mandatory or optional, depending on your school.
There’s a lot to consider when planning for college, including how you’ll pay for healthcare. Utah students have many health insurance options that help cover the cost. We’ll explore the most common ones here.
Why Do Utah Students Need Health Insurance?
Even if you’re young and healthy, you need to see a doctor from time to time. Health insurance helps cover the cost of certain healthcare services, from preventive care to hospital stays, depending on your policy. Without it, you’ll have to pay your medical bills entirely out of pocket.
What Should You Consider When Searching for Student Health Coverage in Utah?
With so many options, you may feel a bit overwhelmed as you look for student health coverage. It can be helpful to first consider your health and budget. Do you have medical conditions that require ongoing care? Do you take prescription medications? How much can you afford to pay for coverage (the premiums) and when you need to see a doctor (the deductible, coinsurance and copayments)?
As a student, you’ll also want to answer these questions to help guide your choice:
Health Insurance Resources
Prospective Utah students can find health insurance information on their school’s website and through the Utah Department of Health and Take Care Utah, which also provides assistance in signing up for a plan.
Will You Attend School In State or Out of State?
If you are from Utah and plan to stay in state for school, it could make sense to keep your existing coverage. You’ll want to be sure your plan’s provider network includes doctors and hospitals in the city where you attend school. If it doesn’t, consider whether or not you will be able to travel home when you need healthcare.
If you come from out of state to attend school in Utah, you will likely be out of your existing health plan’s network and need to find new coverage. Many policies don’t cover out-of-network care, and the ones that do usually charge more for it.
Can Someone Claim You as a Dependent?
Under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), premium tax credits and cost-sharing subsidies are available to anyone who enrolls in an individual major medical plan and qualifies based on income. But your status as a dependent could impact your eligibility for these 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’re 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 plan to stay on your mom or dad’s health insurance plan, make sure it covers healthcare providers in the area where you attend school. Even if it does, you may want to compare your parent’s plan with other forms of coverage available to you as a student. You may find there are more economical options.
What If You Get Covered Under Your Parent’s Plan in Utah?
It can be convenient and affordable to maintain coverage through a parent. Federal law allows you to do so 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 could be the right option if you’re enrolled in a school that’s close to home. Factors that will help you decide include your plan’s provider network, whether or not you find a more affordable coverage option that fits your needs, and whether or not your parent’s plan meets your school’s requirements.
What If You Get Covered Under Your School Plan in Utah?
Some Utah colleges and universities offer a student health insurance plan. This coverage typically provides comprehensive benefits, low premiums that may be rolled into your tuition, and provider networks that include on-campus care if your school offers student health services.
Enrolling in your school’s health plan could make sense if you’re uninsured, want coverage that’s less expensive than what you have now, or need coverage with a Utah provider network.
What If You Get Covered Through the Affordable Care Act in Utah?
You may find an ACA plan to be cost-effective if you qualify for subsidies. This coverage is comprehensive, which means it includes the 10 essential health benefits. It’s also guaranteed issue, which means your application can’t be denied if you have preexisting conditions.
You may want to choose an ACA plan if you:
- Need to see a doctor on a regular basis and/or take prescription medications.
- Buy your own health insurance and have a lower income.
- Need coverage with a Utah provider network.
- Don’t have access to a student health insurance plan at school.
If you’re a dependent who comes from another state to attend school in Utah, 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
ACA plans are available through the federal Health Insurance Marketplace during the annual open enrollment period or a special enrollment period triggered by a qualifying life event such as moving to (or from) where you attend school or turning 26.
Most Affordable Option
If you are covered by Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Plan (CHIP) in Utah, you can keep it as long as you continue to qualify. These programs, which are no-cost or low-cost, may be your most affordable health insurance option.
What If You Get Covered Through Medicaid or CHIP in Utah?
If you’re covered by Utah Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), you can keep it as long as you continue to qualify. Because these programs are no-cost or low-cost, it may be your most affordable option.
Be sure to see if your school’s campus health center accepts these benefits. If not, you’ll want to locate nearby providers who will or find out if coverage through your school will be affordable to you.
Medicaid and CHIP benefits don’t typically transfer between states. If you’re enrolled in one of these programs elsewhere, you’ll need to reapply for coverage in Utah. You can visit the Utah Department of Health to learn more about eligibility.3
What Are Other Options for Coverage in Utah?
Catastrophic and short-term health plans tend to have lower monthly premiums than unsubsidized ACA plans, which can make them appealing to young adults on a tight budget. However, they aren’t right for everyone due to eligibility rules.
Catastrophic Health Plan
If you’re under 30, or an older student with hardship and affordability exemptions, you may qualify for catastrophic health insurance. Available through the federal Health Insurance Marketplace, these plans provide comprehensive coverage with a low monthly premium. Consequently, they also have high deductibles, which can make them a better fit for those who have few healthcare needs. Catastrophic plans are not subsidy-eligible.
Short-Term Health Insurance
Short-term health insurance is a temporary coverage option that can 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, or need coverage for a month or two.
Short-term plans are designed to help with the cost of unexpected medical bills, as opposed to preventive care or treatment for preexisting health conditions. For this reason, short-term plans tend to cost less than unsubsidized ACA plans.
Utah short-term health insurance policies can last up to 364 days, with renewals up to 36 months.4 You can quickly apply for short-term health insurance online or through an agent. However, coverage is not a guaranteed issue, which means your application can be denied if you have a preexisting condition.
What If You Skip Health Insurance in Utah?
There is no longer a federal tax penalty for going without health insurance. While some states have imposed their own penalties, Utah is not one of them. If you are uninsured, you’ll have to pay fully out of pocket for your healthcare.
What Are State-Specific Rules for Utah Students?
Utah’s colleges and universities set their own coverage requirements.
What Are School Requirements in Utah?
Student health insurance rules vary among Utah schools. You will need to check with your institution to learn what it requires. Below, you will find highlights from three of the state’s largest universities:
Utah Valley University
Utah Valley University doesn’t require domestic (U.S.) students to have health insurance and you don’t need it to access student health services.5 The student health center is not a Medicaid provider, which means students covered by Medicaid will need to look for providers within the community or pay out-of-pocket rates. International students on J-1 visas must have health insurance, and the university provides guidance on choosing an insurance policy but doesn’t offer a plan.6
The University of Utah
The University of Utah strongly encourages students to carry health insurance and offers a student health insurance plan.7 International students are automatically enrolled in the U of U student plan.8
Brigham Young University
All domestic and international students enrolled at Brigham Young University must have health insurance.9 Undergraduate students who are enrolled in at least nine credit hours and international students will automatically be put on the university plan in fall or at the start of their first semester. Students with at least five credits but less than nine may contact the student health plan office if they wish to enroll in the school’s health plan.
BYU’s student plan is not considered minimum essential coverage under the ACA.10 Students who have private health insurance can either waive the student plan or be simultaneously enrolled in both.
What Are Resources for Utah Students?
Your college or university website can be a good starting point to learn more about student health insurance (e.g., whether it’s mandatory, student health plan information).
The Utah Department of Health offers information on applying for health insurance in Utah, including how to find in-person assistance and where to learn more about Medicaid and other public health insurance programs. Take Care Utah is another resource for gathering information about Utah health insurance options and finding local help.
To look up individual insurance companies or agents or find information about insurance-related legislation in Utah, visit the Utah Department of Insurance.
There isn’t a single health insurance option that’s right for all students. You’ll want to take the time to compare your options, even if you think your choice is clear. (And you’ll probably want to reevaluate each year to make sure the coverage you have is still the right choice.) To determine which coverage best meets your needs at this time, look at premium prices and cost-sharing amounts, plan benefits and exclusions, and provider networks. Contact the insurance company whose plan you’re considering if you have questions or need help with the enrollment process, or contact your school with questions about its student plan.