Cutting College Costs: The Ultimate Strategy for Dodging Health Insurance Fees

The largest unit of uninsured individuals in the United States are college students.

It’s true that the Affordable Care Act (ACA), a part of the healthcare reform agenda of the Obama administration enacted in 2010, reduced the number of uninsured college students in the land.

Still, almost 1.7 million of them remain uninsured.

Because of this, most American colleges and universities require students to have insurance coverage.

They do so either by requiring them to enroll in a student health insurance plan or by proving the presence of alternative coverage enough to meet the institution’s requirements for medical coverage.

College cost is already expensive as it is.

The addition of health insurance fees to the bill, which costs anywhere from a little over $2,000 to more than $5,000 at some colleges, makes a degree less and less accessible to students from low-income backgrounds.

So, can you waive college health insurance to lower the cost of college?

You can waive your student health insurance fee just like standardized test fees and college application fees, although you must meet certain eligibility requirements, such as having coverage comparable to what the school offers.

The process of waiving health insurance can vary from one college to the next.

However, in most instances, students must verify that their insurance meets certain requirements by the institution and then fill out a form, which involves providing insurance information, in order to complete the process.

health insurance

Why Do Colleges Require Health Insurance?

Most colleges and universities require students to have health insurance to ensure they have access to quality healthcare services as they work on their respective degree programs away from home.

Institutions do not require those covered under their parent’s health insurance or have their own to buy.

However, it’s worth pointing out that theirs must meets the college’s coverage requirements.

On the other hand, most colleges make it usually mandatory for degree-seeking individuals without any insurance coverage to buy a health insurance plan available at the school.

Advantages of College Health Insurance

Numerous postsecondary institutions in the country mandate their attendees without insurance plans to enroll in the coverage they offer, and it’s mostly for the good of the students themselves.

  • Quality healthcare. In most instances, college health insurance has a network of preferred providers, often located near or on campus. As such, students have easy access to healthcare services when they need them.
  • Protection from crippling medical bills. Students from low-income households without enough financial support from their parents can save themselves from exorbitant healthcare costs should injuries or serious illnesses arise.
  • Reduced out-of-pocket expenses. School-sponsored health insurance does not cover all services, but students have to pay less out-of-pocket when seeking certain medical care their policy does not include.
  • Coverage for mental health care. Around 60% of college students meet the criteria for at least one mental health issue, and having a health insurance plan grants them access to counseling, therapy, and other related services.
  • Study-abroad opportunities. More often than not, undergraduate students who wish to participate in a study-abroad program must meet minimum health insurance coverage requirements for eligibility.
  • Peace of mind. Lastly, students with college health insurance plans and their respective parents can have peace of mind knowing that they have medical coverage whenever health-related concerns show up.

Disadvantages of College Health Insurance

While there are many perks that come with having health insurance coverage, there are also some disadvantages, many of which are exclusive to health insurance plans a college or university requires.

  • Increased college cost. Adding health insurance coverage on top of steep tuition, student fees, and room and board can make college inaccessible to low-income students, thus making some skip college altogether.
  • Limited insurance coverage. As mentioned, a student health plan may not cover all possible healthcare services, which makes it less useful for students who need certain medical care not included in their policy.
  • Paying for unnecessary coverage. Not all college students need coverage all year round, and those who don’t need it during summer breaks still have to shell out money for monthly premiums.
  • More expensive for high-risk students. College health insurance costs are not the same for all degree-seeking students — they are usually higher for those with obesity, hypertension, diabetes, and other health issues.
  • Exclusion of certain pre-existing conditions. Some chronic health conditions of the students may have no coverage, thus causing them to shell out money separately for the checkups and treatments of whatever they may have.
health insurance

Waiving College Health Insurance

Although most colleges and universities in the US indeed require students to have coverage, they do not mandate them to exclusively buy plans these institutions are offering.

Coverage under their parent’s health insurance, employer’s plan, or the provider of their choosing is welcome.

Students with medical coverage already are very likely to waive college health insurance fees.

On the other hand, those without coverage and who find the fees their respective institutions charge too expensive may look for cheap health plans elsewhere to keep college costs low.

Health Insurance Fees at Different Colleges

As mentioned, student health plans can range from $2,000 to $5,000+ per year.

College students who wish to get university-sponsored health coverage for their spouses or kids have to pay more, usually the same amount they have to shell out annually for their own health insurance policy.

The table below shows the cost of annual health insurance at the top 20 best national universities by US News:

InstitutionCollege Health Insurance Cost
Princeton University$3,510
Massachusetts Institute of Technology$3,237
Harvard University$4,120
Stanford University$7,128
Yale University$2,894
University of Pennsylvania$4,210
California Institute of Technology$4,998
Duke University$3,282
Brown University$4,636
Johns Hopkins University$3,116
Northwestern University$5,144
Columbia University$4,541
Cornell University$3,311
University of Chicago$4,917
University of California, Berkeley$3,858
University of California, Los Angeles$3,842
Rice University$3,139
Dartmouth College$4,163
Vanderbilt University$2,397
University of Notre Dame$2,836

How to Waive Health Insurance Fee

Should I waive college health insurance?

This question may be on your mind and the minds of many others, and the answer is on a case-to-case basis, depending on one’s financial situation and whether or not they have existing coverage.

The cost of college health insurance can easily leave some students feeling stressed and anxious.

The process of waiving the health insurance fee their colleges charge is just as menacing.

In most instances, it’s a long and tedious process, requiring students to obtain a form, provide insurance information, submit it before the deadline, and wait for the school’s approval.

Coverage that isn’t equivalent or comparable to the college’s is likely to result in the rejection of the waiver!

Just to give you an idea of what waiving college-sponsored coverage is like, let’s take a quick look at how a student health plan is waived at certain colleges and universities:

  • Brown University. Before you fill out the Brown health insurance waiver, check that your coverage meets all the Ivy League’s requirements. Make sure to check the waiver process opening and closing date for your academic year to avoid being charged coverage for a whole year.
  • Florida Tech. Students at Florida Tech can avoid automatic enrollment to the university’s health plan by submitting a fee waiver — it’s possible to appeal a denied application. International students with coverage from an insurance firm outside the US cannot apply for the Florida Tech health insurance waiver.
  • Rutgers University. Full-time undergraduate students (taking at least 12 credits per semester) who have coverage under their parent’s, employer’s, or personal plan may fill out the Rutgers health insurance waiver online. Students enrolled online are not mandated to have coverage, school-sponsored or otherwise.
  • Vassar College. Having a comparable health plan to that offered by Vassar makes you eligible to apply for a health insurance fee waiver and stick with what you currently have. International students are not eligible for the Vassar health insurance waiver, which means they must purchase coverage from the institution.
  • Cornell University. Students with alternate health insurance coverage that meets the institution’s requirements may fill out the Cornell health insurance waiver. Meanwhile, those who are unsure if they can waive may refer to the checklist Cornell provides to compare their coverage with that of the Ivy League’s plan.
  • William & Mary. What’s nice about having the William & Mary insurance waiver getting the college’s approval is that it doesn’t affect the eligibility of students with their own coverage from obtaining services at the Student Health Center. However, it’s vital to submit the waiver on time to avoid insurance charges on one’s student account.
  • UC Berkeley. Newly admitted, readmitted, and continuing undergraduate students are eligible to apply for the UC Berkeley health insurance waiver, provided that their coverage is equivalent to what the institution has. Students who submit the waiver late, usually past January 1, get a charge of $75.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent those of the College Reality Check.

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