By Craig McMorris, TV5 Anchor/Reporter - bio | email
LANSING, MI (WNEM) -
Now that classes are back in session at some Mid-Michigan colleges, students need a quick lesson in how to use their insurance while away at school. Michigan parents, there are also a few things you need to check before they leave home. Here are a few tips on places to start your student's insurance check-up from the Office of Financial and Insurance Regulation (OFIR).
Coverage through a parent's health plan: Most health insurance plans offering dependent coverage must make that coverage available to dependent children until they reach age 26. Both married and unmarried dependents qualify for this coverage, and the dependent does not have to be a student. This does not apply to retiree only plans and, until 2014, if the parent's coverage is through an employer, and the dependent is eligible for coverage through his or her own job, the parent's plan may not be required to provide coverage.
It is also important to know how college students not living at home can utilize their existing coverage through a Health Maintenance Organization (HMO) or a Preferred Provider Organization (PPO). For example, a student covered by an HMO may be living outside the HMO service area of physicians and hospitals. If this occurs, the student would have coverage for emergency care, but may have to travel to a physician or hospital within the service area for other care. Similarly, a health carrier may pay benefits at out-of-network levels for students who obtain services from a provider outside a PPO network. Check your plan provisions, or speak with your health carrier or benefits administrator to find out the level of benefits provided when a student is away at school and located outside the service area.
Be sure the college student has a copy of the relevant insurance cards and knows how to obtain any required approvals before seeking treatment.
Student health insurance plans
Students who do not have health coverage through a parent's policy, or who have limited coverage due to network service areas, may opt to purchase a student health insurance plan. Additionally, some schools may require a student to have proof of health coverage as part of registration. Student health plans are sold by an insurer that has contracted with a college to offer coverage to its students. In general, these plans have more limited benefits and more exclusions than traditional health coverage plans.
Dental and eye care:
Routine dental care and eye care generally are not included as part of a health insurance plan, although many will cover emergency non-cosmetic dental work that is medically necessary due to an accident. Some plans may include limited coverage for dental procedures, such as the removal of wisdom teeth, if performed in a hospital. Finally, most plans do not cover expenses related to periodic eye examinations, glasses or contact lenses. In general, health insurance plans do cover medical care as a result of an eye disease or injury.
Michigan consumers can find answers to all of their health insurance questions through OFIR's Health Insurance Consumer Assistance Program (HICAP). Consumers can visit www.michigan.gov/HICAP or call the toll-free consumer hotline 877-999-6442.
Whether students live in college housing or rental properties they will likely have valuables - such as a computer, TV, stereo and/or video game system - that could be stolen or destroyed in a fire or natural disaster. Parents should check with their agent to determine whether their homeowners policy will cover a college student's possessions or if renter's insurance is needed.
OFIR's resources on homeowners and renter's insurance can be found here.
Parents and college students should do some homework regarding auto insurance. If a college student is going to be using the family vehicle when visiting home, parents should make sure the child is listed by name on the family's auto insurance policy. If the student will be taking a car with them to school, parents should check with their agent to learn their company's rules and determine whether it would be necessary to buy a separate policy in the city and state in which the student will be living.
Copyright 2012 WNEM (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.
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