Student Health Insurance In Iowa For 2023

WRITTEN BY: Craig Sturgill


If you’re heading off to college or university in Iowa, you probably aren’t thinking much about your healthcare. Iowa often sees health issues with young adults, such as underage drinking, heart disease, and obesity. Medical services are helpful to ensure you don’t pay too much out-of-pocket.

If you live in Iowa or come out of state, you may not know what health services are available. Here’s the breakdown to give students in Iowa all they need to know to choose the best health insurance plan.

What Are the Iowa Health Insurance Options Available For Students?

Going without health coverage in Iowa isn’t a good idea since you never know when an accident or injury may occur. There are plenty of various coverage options available for students, which include the following:

  • College or university plans: Many schools in Iowa offer their own health plans through the college or university.
  • Student Health Plan: These are student insurance plans for those between 17-29 years old.
  • Parent’s insurance plan: If you’re a full-time student in Iowa, you can stay on your existing parent’s plan. It may be an easy option if you already reside in the state.
  • Marketplace plans: You can purchase your own medical insurance through the state’s Health insurance Marketplace exchange. These plans are easily found online at
  • Medicaid: Medicaid in Iowa is a federal and state cost-sharing benefit program. They offer low to no-cost health insurance for those who meet income eligibility.
  • Catastrophic health plans: If you’re under 30 or qualify for an exemption, you can apply for a Catastrophic health plan. These plans have low premiums but high deductibles.
  • Short-term health plans: You can get short-term health plans in Iowa, which run for 364 days.
  • Employer-sponsored health plans: If you plan to work while attending school, your employer may have medical insurance plans available.
  • Private insurance plans: If you buy your own plan off the exchange, you can get a private one. These can be through a broker or other non-affiliated insurance company.

Benefits of student health insurance

If you’re young and healthy, you may skip your trips to the doctor and not be concerned about your healthcare. Numerous other advantages of having health insurance as a student in Iowa are helpful, including:

  • Cost savings: the most considerable help is coverage in an emergency. Without insurance, you’re paying thousands out of pocket.
  • Extra coverage: many student health plans offer extensive coverage (i.e., a Student Assistance Plan) for other health-related issues. These include having assistance for mental health or support to manage stress.
  • Your health: overall, your well-being is critical to your academic success in school. Having preventive services to help avoid health problems and detect issues is the best way to stay healthy.

Rules For Iowa Health Insurance For Students

Iowa’s Federal Health reform law allows children to stay on their parent’s plan until they are 26, even if not enrolled in school. Some colleges and universities may require students to have insurance coverage when attending.

Check with the Iowa Insurance Division, your parent’s insurance carrier, or the admissions office at your school. There may be eligibility requirements.

Did the state implement the ACA’s Medicaid expansion?

Iowa implemented the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) Medicaid Expansion in 2014. It expands coverage for low-income households and individuals with two programs. They are the Iowa Marketplace Choice (SHIP) and the Iowa Wellness Plan (IHAWP).

Iowa ACA Open Enrollment dates

Students in Iowa who purchase ACA-compliant Marketplace coverage must do so during the Open Enrollment Period. It runs from November 1 to December 15 for coverage to begin in January.

Are health insurance subsidies available?

Health insurance subsidies in Iowa are available to those who meet income requirements. Subsidies give students low-cost or free health insurance for those meeting eligibility. The subsidies are through Medicaid and children’s insurance programs.

What To Consider When Choosing Iowa Student Health Insurance Plans

Finding a student health insurance policy can be challenging. There are many facets to consider, including costs and ease of service. Here are things to consider when choosing your student plan in Iowa.

Are you going to school in-state or out-of-state?

If you’re an Iowa resident, in-state students can easily stay on a parent’s plan. If you’re from out-of-state, see if there are any in-network to work on your parent’s plan.

Are you considered someone’s dependent?

If your parent or guardian claims you as a dependent, you can stay on their healthcare plan in Iowa. But, if you’re someone’s dependent, you’re not eligible for any subsidies. You only qualify for those by purchasing your own insurance plan.

Are you going to stay on your parent’s health insurance plan or enroll on your own?

You may save money staying on your parent’s existing plan. But, the coverage may not cover all you need, so it’s worth looking into the cost of your own plan.

What type of student health insurance plans are cheaper?

It may be cheaper to get a plan for yourself on the Marketplace in Iowa. It depends on the medical services you need and whether you need to consider any pre-existing conditions. If you’re relatively healthy, lower-cost plans are a great option, but beware – they don’t cover as much.

What student health plans offer the best coverage?

ACA plans tend to be the most comprehensive since they have to offer specific benefits. Look for plans providing things you’ll need, like prescription drugs or coverage for pre-existing conditions.

What happens if you don’t have student health insurance coverage?

Iowa doesn’t require you to have a student health insurance plan. If you’re healthy and young, you may not want to worry about it. But remember, you could pay much more after a severe illness or serious injury.

How To Get Iowa Student Health Insurance Coverage

With all of the options for a student health plan, it’s easy to get coverage. Here are some ways to show you how to acquire health coverage in Iowa as a student.

How to get coverage on your parent’s health insurance plan

You can stay on your parent’s plan if you’re in-state or out-of-state, as long as you’re under 26. But ensure their plan covers in-network providers near your school. Otherwise, you may worry about needing referrals or paying extra copays.

Getting health insurance from your school

Some schools offer their own health plans and may require you to have coverage to attend. The University of Iowa, for example, requires undergraduates to acquire health insurance. They offer a Student Health Insurance Plan for students enrolled in five or more credit hours per semester.

Iowa State University also offers coverage as the Student and Scholar Health Insurance Program. It’s through Wellmark and Delta Dental to all undergraduate and graduate students. You must enroll in five or more credit hours per semester.

Getting student health insurance coverage through the ACA

You can easily buy an ACA plan through the federal Health Insurance Marketplace. You can also contact them by phone at (844) 884-0736 or work with a licensed insurance agent. With an ACA plan, you can apply for subsidies to help lower costs.

Getting student health insurance coverage from Medicaid

Medicaid offers health coverage through the IA Health Link program for children up to 19. The Iowa Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) also provides coverage for families who earn too much to qualify for Medicaid. Call or go online to see if you’re eligible for a low or no-cost healthcare option.

What other student health insurance options are available in Iowa?

Catastrophic health plans are available for students under 30. They have low monthly premiums but high deductibles, so you’ll pay more out-of-pocket. You may also look into short-term healthcare policy in Iowa if you don’t need coverage all year round.

Cheapest Student Health Insurance Plans In Iowa

Iowa health insurance plans break down into four metal tiers with different degrees of premiums and coverage options. Here are some of the cheapest plans for students.

Cheapest health insurance plan for students with low out-of-pocket maximums 

If you have more medical expenses than the average student, it may help to get a plan with low out-of-pocket maximums. These student health plans bring you to your deductible limit sooner for insurance coverage to kick in and pay. Many of these plans have higher premiums.

The cheapest plan with a low out-of-pocket maximum is the Welmark Gold Modified HMO plan. It costs an average of $440 per month.

Cheapest student health insurance plan with high out-of-pocket maximums 

Healthy Iowa students with minimum healthcare needs can opt for a lower-cost plan with high out-of-pocket maximums. You pay less for these monthly plans, but it costs more if you have a medical emergency or many doctor visits.

The most affordable plan with high out-of-pocket maximums is Medica Catastrophic for those under 30. It costs an average of just $219 per month.

Cheapest student health insurance plan with an HSA option

Students in good health can opt for a plan with a Health Savings Account (HSA) option. These more affordable plans allow you to save pre-tax contributions in an emergency or high-cost medical situation.

The cheapest plan in Iowa with an HSA is the Wellmark Bronze HDHP HMO. It costs an average of around $300 per month.

Cheapest EPO/HMO health insurance plans available for students 

In Iowa, students can get Exclusive Provider Organization (EPO) or Health Maintenance Organization (HMO) plans. HMO plans are more common and typically more affordable. But with an HMO, you must stick to your in-network providers.

The cheapest health insurance plans for students for EPO and HMO plans are:

  • EPO: The Oscar Silver Saver, costing around $480 per month.
  • HMO: The Wellmark Silver Modified HMO averages about $490 per month.


Can students buy health insurance in Iowa?

Students have numerous options to buy health insurance in Iowa. They can stay on a parent’s plan, purchase an ACA-affiliated plan, or see if their school offers health insurance.

How long can I stay on my parent’s insurance in Iowa?

In Iowa, children can stay on their parent’s medical plan until age 26. It doesn’t matter if you go to school, get married, or have your own children.

How much does student health insurance cost in Iowa?

The cost of a student health insurance plan in Iowa depends on many factors. The average Student Health Insurance Plan (SHIP) rates are around $325 per month. It would be best to compare your options for healthcare coverage to find the best plan.

How much does it cost to buy student health insurance in Iowa?

If you go with a private insurance plan in Iowa, the costs start at around $335 per month. Schools may offer more affordable plans, and even cheaper to stay on your parent’s plan or buy a plan through the Marketplace exchange.

Do I need to apply for student health insurance in Iowa?

The state of Iowa doesn’t require you to have student health insurance. However, many schools and universities may require students to obtain health insurance coverage to attend.

Finding Student Health Insurance In Iowa

If you’re off to school in Iowa, don’t forget about obtaining a good student insurance plan. Take some time to look over health insurance options at your school or see if you qualify for a low-cost Medicaid program.

Your health and well-being help ensure you do well at school in Iowa. Compare your options and choose a plan to best fit your health needs within your budget.