If I’m a college student, what do I need to know about the Marketplace?



College students have several choices for health coverage. But there’s no special student exemption from the penalty that people without coverage must pay.

If you have a student health plan

  • If you’re covered by your school’s student health plan, in most cases you’re considered covered under the health care law. You won’t have to pay the penalty that people without coverage must generally pay. Check with your student health plan to see if it qualifies as coverage under the health law.
  • Even if you have access to a student health plan, you can choose to buy a health plan through the Marketplace instead. You may qualify for lower costs based on your income. Fill out a Marketplace application to find out if you qualify for lower costs, or use our quick plan and cost preview tool first.

When filling out the Marketplace application, choose “No” when answering whether you currently have health coverage. Choose “No” even if you have a student health plan now and plan to drop it in order to enroll in a Marketplace plan.

Important. Marketplace Open Enrollment ended March 31. You can still buy a Marketplace health plan only if you qualify for a special enrollment period. You can apply for Medicaid and CHIP any time. Learn about special enrollment periods and other coverage options after Open Enrollment. Open Enrollment for 2015 coverage starts November 15, 2014.

Filing a tax return

  • If your income is low and you therefore don’t have to file a federal tax return, you won’t have to pay the penalty, even if you don’t have coverage. (The filing limit in 2013 was about $10,000 gross income per year for an individual.)
  • But if you want to qualify for lower costs on an insurance plan based on your income, you must file a tax return for the year of the coverage.

Catastrophic health plans

If you’re under 30, you can buy a catastrophic health plan. These plans usually have lower monthly premiums but high deductibles. This means you pay for most of your care yourself, up to a certain amount. After that, the insurance company pays its share for covered services.

Catastrophic plans are an affordable way to protect yourself from the high costs of worst-case scenarios, like an accident or serious illness. Catastrophic plans also cover 3 primary care visits per year before you meet your deductible, as well as certain preventive care benefits.

Coverage on a parent’s plan

You may be able to be covered under a parent’s health insurance plan until you turn 26.

Medicaid coverage

When you fill out a Marketplace application, you’ll also find out whether you qualify for coverage through Medicaid, a combined state and federal program that provides coverage to people with limited income.

Some states are expanding Medicaid to cover all adults below a certain income level. Find out whether your state is expanding Medicaid and what your options are.

You can also apply for Medicaid directly to your state agency. Get contact information for your state’s Medicaid agency.