How well does your health insurance plan travel? We recently had to investigate this question for ourselves when our oldest child (who gave me permission to include her story in this post) decided to go to graduate school more than 900 miles away. Since she was invited to teach, the university covered her tuition and provided a stipend for living expenses, but health insurance was her own responsibility.
If your adult child is currently considering a big move (of any sort) within the next year, you and your child may benefit from researching health plans now, during open enrollment. Many health insurance plans allow changes or updates due to a move, but some may not. So if you and your child do the research now, you can make the smartest choice for his or her health and, possibly, your financial needs.
Here are some of the options we looked into:
Stay on the family plan: Although your adult child can maintain coverage under your employer-sponsored or privately purchased insurance plan until the age of 26, most plans make a contract with specific caregivers for services. These in-network providers are usually only found in or near your home area. Your insurance plan might pay less—or not at all—for care received from an out-of-network provider. However, many plans have provisions for those who move. To learn more about networks and costs, check on your provider’s website, or in your plan’s Evidence of Coverage booklet. You can also call their customer service number found on your insurance card.
Purchase a student health plan: If your child is going to attend college or graduate school, check to see if the university provides access to a health insurance plan. Many schools require and offer access to health insurance plans designed to meet the needs of students. Terms and requirements vary, as do family constraints. You can learn more from the college to determine if staying on the family plan or getting a student plan will be more advantageous.
Obtain individual coverage through the health insurance marketplace: A marketplace navigator can help you find an insurance plan in the new state. Financial help might be available from the government. Medicaid may also be an option for those with income limitations.
Medical care can be costly! Making the right health insurance choices can protect both your family’s health and finances. When shopping for the best insurance plan, or deciding to stay on a parent’s plan, it is important to check the services provided and compare costs. The plan with the lowest deductibles might not be the smartest choice if there are large out-of-pocket costs for care. University of Maryland Extension’s Insuring Your Health webpage offers many tested resources that can help guide this process.
Editor’s Note: You can learn more about each of the underlined terms by checking out our SmartChoice and SmartUse Health Insurance glossary.