New and Old Options Available for Student Health Insurance

Dajonay Stewart, Staff Writer

New changes to the American healthcare system are leaving students unsure of what options they have available.

Student health plans have increasingly become a topic of discussion with the recent changes in the health care system. The Affordable Care Act reform has mandated that college students have some form of health insurance. The insurance could be through the students’ school, parents, or on their own. If a student cannot afford a plan of any kind, they can apply for Medicaid.

A benefit for most college students who choose to continue with their parents plan is the option of being covered until they are 26. If the student does not buy health insurance through their school or under their parents, then the student will have to look into the Affordable Care Act plans or the healthcare marketplace.

The healthcare marketplace is designed to have cheaper prices than other options for insurance. Based on the website, a person is covered if they have insurance through their Medicaid, CHIP, a self-bought plan, or through their jobs. Without coverage, a person may have to pay a penalty of approximately $325 a month.

The ACA allows students a handful of options for their healthcare. Most colleges offer student health plans through their system that can classify as a form of health insurance. On the campus of Texas A&M University – Commerce, students, faculty and staff are eligible for health care through the A&M University system.

Academic Health Plans provides the health insurance for the university. Since there is not an office for more information on the student health plans, a website is provided to those interested. By going to, people seeking out plans can see the enrollment info, cost and more when selecting a plan that is affordable to them.

Some health care providers are suggesting that healthcare through the ACA may be cheaper than it is through the school system. A&M University – Commerce Human Resources Benefits Coordinator Cynthia Todhunter suggests that the health plan through the system may be cheaper than what a student could acquire independently.

“That’s what we refer our students to. They can go out to the open marketplace that the Affordable Healthcare Act has provided, but usually this plan is set up as a group plan for a better premium,” Todhunter said. “When they look at the package, the company looks at your policy as more of a group plan.”

Many students on campus may not know about the plans, and may go to Student Health Services for more information. The Student Health Services Insurance Coordinator Stacy Compton says that, while they do not provide the plan, health services will file the insurance for the student.

“It will cover everything they have done on campus. It can be used outside of campus at other doctor offices,” Compton said.

Based on the amount of students enrolled in the plan, roughly half of the university takes advantage of these benefits.

“I would say only about 50 percent of students have this plan.  The majority being international and athletes.  International students are required to have this plan,” Compton said.

International students are required to have the Texas A&M University System Student Health Insurance Plan, the premium charge for which being put onto their student fees. International Student Services Administrative Assistant Dawn McPherson says that, although it is a requirement, there are exceptions.

“The international student has to have a graduate assistant position or have Blue Cross or Blue Shield through Human Resources for a waiver or partial refund,” McPherson said. “They have to have a health plan as long as they are on the Texas A&M University – Commerce campus.”

Former South Korean international student Jiyoon Chung rarely would use her card, but had a few words about the prices.

“I had to pay the insurance fee but never used the card,” Chung said. “I believe that it I paid around $600 but the insurance fee has increased every semester.”

Another international student, Caribbean native Dahlia Dupuis, wishes that she could get more out of the plan.

“I wish I could use it for my eye prescription or to get new glasses,” Dupuis said. “The price is almost $700 this semester and it just keeps getting expensive.”

Despite the costs for some students and the requirement for others, the student health care plan and the Affordable Care Act do provide ways to encourage students to receive a health care plan in case of emergencies. There are multiple ways to be able to afford a health care plan, but the student has to research and choose which plan is affordable to their needs.