UPDATED: JULY 05, 2023 | 3 MIN READ
Many college students don’t realize health insurance’s importance until they use it. If you or your child is preparing to attend college in Illinois, keep reading to learn more about the healthcare options for students in the state.
What are the Illinois health insurance options available for students?
If you’re attending college in Illinois and don’t have health insurance, you’re putting yourself at risk of covering unexpected medical costs. Finding student health insurance in Illinois isn’t a difficult task, as college students have many options, including:
- Remaining on their parent’s insurance plan (if they’re under 26)
- College plans
- Marketplace plans
- Employer-sponsored plans
Illinois college students also have the option to buy private insurance plans, short-term health plans, or catastrophic health plans.
Benefits of student health insurance
Many Illinois college students may not consider health insurance an important factor as they build their budgets, but enrolling in the right plan can save them money. Even if a student is in good physical condition and rarely visits the doctor, enrolling in coverage that matches their medical needs keeps them healthy.
Rules for Illinois health insurance for students
If you’re a student in Illinois under 26, you can legally remain on your parent’s insurance plan. Some colleges, such as the University of Illinois, may require you to have health insurance. To offset the potential costs of care for their university enrollment, all students are automatically enrolled in the university’s student health insurance plan. Check with your college’s admissions office to see if coverage is required.
Did the state implement the ACA’s Medicaid expansion?
Illinois has implemented ACA’s Medicaid expansion, covering over 3.3 million state residents. In 2016, Illinois requested to use Medicaid funds for enrolled who needed mental health and substance abuse treatment. The waiver proposal was approved in 2018.
Illinois ACA Open Enrollment dates
Open Enrollment in Illinois began on November 1, 2022, and will close on January 15, 2023. However, enrollees experiencing a qualifying life event may apply for a healthcare plan outside the traditional Open Enrollment dates within the last 60 days.
Are health insurance subsidies available?
You may receive health insurance subsidies in Illinois if you have a qualifying income level.
What to consider when choosing Illinois student health insurance plans
Before you select a student health insurance plan, consider your general health and budget. The following questions will also help you gain clarity on the coverage you’re seeking.
Are you going to school in-state or out-of-state?
Before you decide to stick with your current plan or enroll in a new one, check your existing plan’s network to see if it’s location specific. If you’re relocating to Illinois to attend college or moving across the state, local doctors and hospitals in your college city may not accept your insurance.
Are you considered someone’s dependent?
Many healthcare plans, especially those offered under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), determine one’s eligibility based on household income. If you’re considered a dependent on someone’s taxes, your healthcare plan eligibility will be based on their income.
Are you going to stay on your parent’s health insurance plan or enroll on your own?
Per the ACA, children can remain on their parent’s insurance until they turn 26. However, if the healthcare options in your new city are out-of-network, your medical coverage will be less valuable and cost-effective.
What type of student health insurance plans are cheaper?
Your student health insurance costs depend on your budget and healthcare needs. It’s also more than your premium cost. When comparing plans, consider the costs involved—deductibles, copayments, coinsurance, and out-of-pocket expenses — in addition to the monthly premium.
What student health plans offer the best coverage?
Student health plans offering the best coverage will depend on the services and provider network. As you shop for student insurance in Illinois, consider the services offered and your provider network in your area.
What happens if you don’t have student health insurance coverage?
Skipping health insurance to save a little extra money each month may be tempting, but it can have financially devastating consequences. If you don’t have health insurance, you risk paying for medical expenses out of pocket.
How to get Illinois student health insurance coverage
Illinois students searching for health insurance have many options, each with different application processes. Whether you’re opting to remain on your parent’s plan until your 26th birthday or considering an ACA plan, learn more about each coverage option before deciding.
How to get coverage on your parent’s health insurance plan
If you’re currently covered under your parent’s insurance plan, you shouldn’t have to take any action. However, you will stop receiving dependent coverage after your 26th birthday. If you’re about to turn 26, it’s time to start exploring your options.
Getting health insurance from your school
Some Illinois universities offer health insurance plans to eligible students. For example, the University of Illinois requires campus-based students—including international students—to purchase a plan before the semester begins.
Getting student health insurance coverage through the ACA
Depending on your age and whether you’re a tax dependent, you may have the option to enroll in an ACA plan through healthcare.gov. You can register for a new plan or make changes to an existing plan during Open Enrollment, or if you have a qualifying life event, you can make changes outside that time window.
Getting student health insurance coverage from Medicaid
You may be eligible for Illinois’ Medicaid program if you’re not listed as dependent on someone’s taxes and meet specific income requirements.
What are other student health insurance options available in Illinois?
College students in Illinois also can enroll in employer-sponsored health plans, catastrophic health plans, short-term health plans, and private insurance plans.
Catastrophic plans and low premiums may appeal to many college students, but the deductibles are higher. Students can also enroll in private insurance, short-term health plans, and employer-sponsored plans through their workplaces.
Cheapest student health insurance plans in Illinois
If you’re a college student, shopping for cheap insurance in Illinois depends on a few factors: how often you need care, coverage options, and more. Depending on how often you require care, you may find that the cheapest insurance for your needs involves either low out-of-pocket maximums or low premiums.
Cheapest health insurance plan for students with low out-of-pocket maximums
Consider a medical plan with a low out-of-pocket maximum if you require frequent doctor visits or prescription drugs. Illinois’ cheapest health plan with a low out-of-pocket max is MercyCare Health Plans’ MercyCare HMO Gold Option C plan.
Cheapest student health insurance plan with high out-of-pocket maximums
If you generally only visit the doctor for routine checkups, enrolling in a plan with a high out-of-pocket maximum is best. However, remember that the costs will be higher if a medical emergency occurs. The cheapest health insurance plan in Hawaii with a high out-of-pocket max is the HMSA Catastrophic Plan by HMSA.
Consider a plan with a high out-of-pocket maximum if you’re generally healthy and only visit the doctor for your annual checkups. Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois’s Blue FocusCare Bronze 209 is the most affordable high out-of-pocket max plan.
Cheapest student health insurance plan with an HSA option
Many Illinois college students may also benefit from a health plan with an HSA option. These plans act as tax-free savings for future healthcare expenses. Illinois offers three cheap student health insurance plans with an HSA option:
- Expanded Bronze: WellFirst Health’s WellFirst Bronze HSA-E 6850X plan
- Silver: WellFirst Health’s WellFirst Silver HSA-E 4500X plan
- Gold: MercyCare Health’s MercyCare HMO Gold Option C plan
Cheapest HMO/PPO/POS health insurance plans available for students
Illinois’s most common healthcare plan is HMOs, but you can also find POS or PPO plans. Generally, the cheapest plan options are:
- HMO: The Blue FocusCare Silver 210 plan by Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois
- PPO: The Blue Choice Preferred Silver PPO 203 plan by Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois
- POS: The 2021 POS 3000 Elite Silver plan by Health Alliance
Can students buy health insurance in Illinois?
Illinois college students have many options for healthcare coverage. Before enrolling in a new plan, consider your medical needs and budget.
How long can a child stay on a parent’s health insurance in Illinois?
Per the ACA, a child can remain on a parent’s health insurance in Illinois until their 26th birthday.
What does UIUC student insurance cover?
UIUC student insurance coverage includes inpatient, outpatient, and emergency care, preventive services not provided by McKinley Health Center, durable medical equipment (DME), mental illness-related services, and prescription drug coverage.
What is the cost of UIUC student health insurance?
UIUC student health insurance costs will vary for undergraduate and graduate students. For the 2021-2022 year, undergraduate costs start at $712 per semester. For graduate students, UIUC insurance starts at $916 for the semester.
Does UIUC student health insurance cover mental illness?
UIUC’s coverage includes mental illness-related services.
Finding student health insurance in Illinois
If you’re attending college in Illinois, you have many healthcare options to consider before enrolling in a new plan or renewing your existing plan. As you shop for insurance, compare the costs with your budget and healthcare needs to find the best coverage while in school.