Insured students have advantage

Column by Emily Duncan. E-mail

Currently, Americans can choose whether or not they want to be covered under a health insurance plan.

Most college students have been or still are covered as dependents under a parent’s individual or employer-sponsored plan. For the majority of these students, they have never had to understand how their insurance works, how much it costs or why it is necessary.

At some point, though, the day will arrive when these students are self-supporting and, consequently, hesitant about the costly, elective expense of health insurance.

Even though most college students consider themselves healthy and safe, nearly 24 percent of 18- to 29-year-olds have had to go to the emergency department in the last year, according to the National Center for Health Statistics.

As students consider the affordability of health insurance, it is important to factor in the possibility of costly medical expenses without the assistance insurance.

Let’s look at how this decision could impact the financial life of a student who comes into a common scenario with and without health insurance coverage.

As an example, John is a college student who just became self-supporting when he turned 23 and “aged out” of his parent’s plan. On his way to class, he tripped and fell down his apartment stairs, breaking his tibia.

Assuming John does not need surgery, his medical costs may include the emergency room visit, medical treatment and X-rays that are likely to cost around $10,000.

As an insured person, the medical costs would be discounted, often by 40 to 60 percent. After the discount, or “negotiated rate,” is applied, the insurance plan would pay its share, minus any deductable, up to the plan’s maximum.

Even accounting for John’s deductible amounts and insurance plan maximums, his out of pocket expenses would go down dramatically.

As an uninsured person, John would be responsible for the full $10,000.

If John’s accident happened while he was uninsured, it is highly unlikely he could purchase a plan after the injury to cover the expenses.

This scenario is referred to as a “pre-existing condition.” In almost all individual plans, an insurance company is only responsible for injuries and illnesses that occur after the person buys the coverage.

Waiting “one more month” to buy health insurance could make all the difference for John.

No matter what you decide about purchasing health insurance coverage, be sure it is an informed choice. Consider your own health history, and be sure you are prepared for unexpected medical emergencies. This decision is a big one, so get more information about your options at (

To learn about the UK-sponsored student insurance plan, visit, ( or e-mail [email protected].