June 20, 2017 Healthy Living

Health Insurance Tips for College Students

I remember preparing to head off to college like it was yesterday. Choosing my classes, shopping for the perfect bedding set, and all the while hoping I had made the right decision when I changed my mind at the last minute and ended up at Siena College instead of Marist (side note: It was one of the best choices I’ve ever made!).

What I wasn’t spending any time thinking about was my health insurance plan and odds are, you aren’t either. That’s why we’ve done the work for you.

Parent Plan vs. Student Plan

Under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), dependents are covered up to age 26, meaning if you are on a parent or guardian’s plan, you can remain on it during college. Check with them to find out if you’re good to go. If not, you may elect to enroll in your college’s student health plan. Many carriers, like CDPHP®, offer comprehensive health insurance coverage to students through their colleges and universities.

Make Sure Your Vaccines, Etc., are Up to Date

Most colleges require up-to-date immunizations, in addition to annual physical documentation. Your college should get in touch with you over the summer about this, or you can visit their website to check out what’s mandatory. Some colleges won’t give you your dorm room key on move-in day until you take care of these important items.

Extensive Coverage

CDPHP student plans offer access to a national network of providers. You can use Find-A-Doc or download the My CDPHP Mobile app from your app store to quickly locate doctors on the go. If you’re leaving your hometown area for school and are covered under a parent’s or guardian’s plan, you should make sure your network extends to the college.

One of my only regrets from my time at Siena was not studying abroad. I wish I had stepped out of my comfort zone and experienced an entirely new country and culture. If you decide to study or travel overseas while at school, you should make sure your plan covers you internationally. CDPHP student plans provide worldwide emergency coverage through Assist America Global Emergency Medical Services, which offers medical consultation, evaluation and referral, hospital admission assistance, prescription assistance, legal and interpreter referrals, emergency trauma counseling, critical care monitoring, and more. A single phone call is all it takes to put Assist America in motion.

No-Cost Preventive Care

I didn’t start giving a lot of thought to getting an annual physical until after I graduated. Big mistake. Preventive care, including your annual checkup, is covered in full, which means there’s no excuse for skipping it. Perhaps if I had paid more attention to this, I would have skipped late-night trips to the dining hall for soft-serve ice cream and avoided the dreaded freshman 15!

Other preventive services, including certain vaccinations, screenings, and the flu shot, are also fully covered. If you participate in a CDPHP student plan, you can even earn CDPHP Life Points® Rewards for the important services you’re receiving anyway. You’re rewarded for healthy behaviors in the form of points! Watch your points add up and cash them in for valuable gift cards from a variety of retailers. CDPHP encourages using CDPHP Life Points Rewards toward the purchase of health and wellness-related items.

Prescription Drugs

If you take prescription drugs, you’ll want to either stock up before you head out for school or locate in-network pharmacies near you (in-network is just a fancy way of saying we’ll cover your prescription if you use this location). With CDPHP, you can also take advantage of our convenient mail-order service and have one less thing to worry about leaving campus for. If your campus is like most, freshman are not able to have cars unless they commute. You’ll also want to check out Rx for Less, a program that offers deep discounts on many generic prescription drugs. You’ll save big if you talk to your doctor about switching from a name-brand drug to a generic, and you can put that extra money toward a spring break trip!

Your College’s Student Health Center

Most colleges have health centers, but what they offer can vary. Some are robust and are able to diagnose and treat many illnesses. Others are simpler and will refer you elsewhere depending on the severity of your condition. Familiarize yourself with the health services your college offers as soon as you set foot on campus.

While we’re on the topic, did you know that most urgent care centers can treat common ails, such as the flu, rashes, pink eye, and sprains? If your school’s student health center offers minimal services and you’re away from your primary care physician (PCP), an urgent care center is your best bet for treatment while keeping costs down. Of course, if you’re experiencing shortness of breath, severe bleeding, or head trauma, you should head to your nearest emergency room as soon as possible.

Mental Health and Substance Use Resources

Let’s face it: College is tough. It’s also when signs of depression or mental illness can begin to show, even if you never had symptoms previously. And, if we’re still being honest, it’s when you may start drinking or experimenting with drugs. Don’t let these things stand in the way of an incredible college experience and a bright future. If you think you need help, CDPHP has a 24/7 access line to connect you to the resources you need. By calling 1-888-320-9584, you’ll get the help that’s right for you immediately.

Of course, stress is a normal part of life and college. You should certainly work toward mitigating the effects of stress by taking advantage of your school’s free fitness center and focusing on healthy eating habits. Drinking plenty of water and (trying) to get a full night’s sleep never hurt, either.

See? Your health plan can do more for you than you may have thought! Now, get ready to embrace the amazing experience ahead of you.

Natalia Burkart
About the Author

Natalia joined CDPHP in 2015 as a communications writer/editor and currently serves as director, communications strategy. Born and raised in the Capital Region, Natalia earned a BS in marketing and management from Siena College and an MBA from Union Graduate College (now Clarkson University). A self-professed news junkie and lover of iced coffee, Natalia currently resides in North Greenbush with her husband and two kids.

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