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As a college student or young adult, you have options for health insurance. You might get coverage through your parents, school, employer, the Health Insurance Marketplace, or other options. The best health insurance provides affordable student and young adult health insurance plans covering preventive, primary, and urgent care.

Learn essential aspects of student health insurance you should compare.

What You Should Know About Student and Young Adult Health Insurance Plans

  • You can’t stay on your parent’s plan forever: Once you turn 26, you’re no longer able to stay on your parent’s health insurance policy.
  • Your school or employer may offer plans: Some schools offer sponsored health insurance plans. If you have a job, your employer may have a group plan you can use.
  • You may qualify for assistance: You can apply for individual insurance through the Health Insurance Marketplace. In the marketplace, you can determine your eligibility for subsidies to help you pay monthly premiums.
Health insurance company Financial strength rating Customer satisfaction rating Value rating Coverage rating Overall rating
Anthem: best for nationwide coverage 5 3 4 4 4
Blue Cross Blue Shield: best for nationwide coverage 5 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.6
Cigna: best network 4.5 4.1 4 4 4.2
Kaiser Permanente: best for one-stop care 5 4.5 4.8 4 4.6
Pivot Health: best for budget options 5 3 3.5 4 3.9
UnitedHealthcare: best for plan options 4 4.8 4.8 4.8 4.6

How We Rate Health Insurance Companies

Financial strength: The financial strength rating is based on the insurance company’s AM Best financial strength rating. AM Best is a credit rating agency specializing in the insurance industry, which rates an insurer’s ability to meet ongoing obligations.

Customer satisfaction: The customer satisfaction rating takes into account Kaiser Permanente’s Better Business Bureau, National Committee for Quality Assurance, and Consumer Affairs ratings. These ratings are calculated using customer complaints and satisfaction ratings.

Value: The value rating calculates an insurer’s overall value based on monthly premium, annual deductible, office visit cost, ER visit cost, and annual maximum out-of-pocket cost.

Coverage: The coverage rating considers the insurer’s availability of coverages, plan types, and network size.

What Is the Best Student Health Insurance?

There are numerous ways to get affordable student and young adult health insurance, including staying on your parent’s plan if you’re under age 26 or enrolling in a student health plan if your school offers it.

Other options include:

  • Employer-sponsored health insurance: You may have access to employer-sponsored health insurance as part of your benefits package. Your employer selects one or more group health plans and may pay part of your premium. Part-time employees may not qualify for health insurance.
  • The Health Insurance Marketplace: You can purchase an insurance plan that provides Affordable Care Act (ACA) mandated minimum essential coverage through the Health Insurance Marketplace. But if your parents claim you as a tax dependent, you may not qualify for any savings because you must include your parent’s income. If you’re not claimed as a dependent, you may be eligible for a subsidy that pays part of your monthly premium.
  • Medicare: If you’re under age 65, you’re only eligible for Medicare if you have a qualifying disability. Use the gov eligibility tool to see if you’re eligible.
  • Medicaid: If you’re a student or young adult living independently with a low income and certain life situations, such as pregnancy, you may qualify for free or low-cost health coverage through Medicaid. In some states, you may qualify if you’re under age 21 and a dependent of a parent who receives Medicaid. Apply through the Health Insurance Marketplace or directly through your state Medicaid agency.
  • Short-term health insurance: Short-term health insurance offers limited coverage for a limited period, usually 30 to 90 days but some for up to three years. These plans can cover a lapse in long-term insurance due to job loss, change in life situation, or a missed enrollment period. Most short-term plans do not cover preexisting conditions, preventive care, maternity care, immunizations, dental, vision, or other specialized services.

Anthem Student and Young Adult Health Insurance: Best for nationwide coverage

Anthem Logo

Company Overview
Overall rating: 4
Company founded 2004
Coverage area All 50 states
A.M. Best rating A+
BBB rating F
NCQA accreditation Yes
NCQA rating 4.5 to 2.5
Provider network Large

Formed in 2004, Anthem serves 25 states and is one of the largest health insurance providers nationwide. It offers a wide range of medical and specialty products, including HMOs, PPOs, and hybrid offerings within a large provider network. Although Anthem received a poor rating from the Better Business Bureau, it remains a leading health benefits company. Its varied individual and family offerings may provide affordable student and young adult health insurance plans. Explore Anthem’s insurance plans to see if one works for you.

Is Anthem a Good Student Health Insurance Provider?

What we like about Anthem health insurance plans: The drawbacks of Anthem health insurance plans:
  • Offers a wide range of HMOs, PPOs, and various hybrid and specialty products
  • Available in all 50 states
  • Large provider network
  • Received an “F” rating from the Better Business Bureau
  • Health products and services offered by subsidiaries vary

What Do Anthem Student Health Insurance Plans Cover?

Anthem offers several health insurance options, including:

  • Group plans
  • Individual and family plans
  • Medicaid
  • Medicare
  • Vision and dental

How Is Anthem Rated?

Trusted ratings and reviews can help you understand how an insurer’s plans stack up against the competition. See how we rated Anthem.

Financial strength rating: 5 Customer satisfaction rating: 3 Value rating: 4 Coverage rating: 4

Blue Cross Blue Shield Health Student and Young Adult Insurance: Best rated

Blue Cross Blue Shield Logo

Company Overview
Overall rating: 4.6
Company founded 1929
Coverage area All 50 states
A.M. Best rating A+
BBB rating A+
NCQA accreditation Yes
NCQA rating 4 to 3
Plans available
  • Family health insurance
  • Individual health insurance
  • Medicaid
  • Medicare
Provider network More than 1.7 million doctors and hospitals

Blue Cross Blue Shield (BCBS) offers a full spectrum of coverage in all 50 states. BCBS has 36 separate health insurance organizations nationwide, but these regional companies operate differently, and not all plans are available in every state. Assess BCBS plans for every budget and situation.

Is Blue Cross Blue Shield a Good Student Health Insurance Provider?

What we like about Blue Cross Blue Shield health insurance plans: The drawbacks of Blue Cross Blue Shield health insurance plans:
  • Most providers nationwide accept BCBS
  • Plans offered in all 50 states
  • Plans cover every family situation and budget
  • Some plans are only available in certain states
  • Regional companies operate differently

What Do Blue Cross Blue Shield Student Health Insurance Plans Cover?

Blue Cross Blue Shield offers several health insurance options, including:

  • Individual and family plans
  • Medicaid and CHIP plans in 24 states
  • Medicare Advantage Plans

How Is Blue Cross Blue Shield Rated?

Trusted ratings and reviews can help you understand how an insurer’s plans stack up against the competition. See how we rated Blue Cross Blue Shield.

Financial strength rating: 5 Customer satisfaction rating: 4.5 Value rating: 4.5 Coverage rating: 4.5

Cigna Health Student and Young Adult Insurance: Best network

Cigna Logo

Company Overview
Overall rating: 4.2
Company founded 1981
Coverage area
  • Arizona
  • Colorado
  • Florida
  • Illinois
  • Kansas
  • Missouri
  • North Carolina
  • Tennessee
  • Utah
  • Virginia
A.M. Best rating A
BBB rating A-
NCQA accreditation Yes
NCQA rating 4 to 2.5
Plans available
  • Dental and vision
  • Individual and family plans
  • Medicare, Medicare Advantage, and Medicare Supplement Insurance plans
  • Pharmacy
Provider network
  • Global network of over 1.5 million health care providers, clinics, and facilities
  • Over 67,000 contracted pharmacies

Cigna partners with more than 1.5 million health care providers and institutions to ensure members have access to quality, affordable care. While it provides an array of individual and family plans, Cigna only operates in 10 states. Review Cigna’s limited-service area to ensure they provide an insurance plan where you live and go to school.

Is Cigna a Good Student Health Insurance Provider?

What we like about Cigna health insurance plans: The drawbacks of Cigna health insurance plans:
  • 24/7 customer support
  • Medicare prescription drug plans are available in all 50 states
  • High satisfaction ratings
  • Individual and family plans are only available in 10 states
  • Medicare Advantage plans are only available in 16 states

What Do Cigna Student Health Insurance Plans Cover?

Cigna offers several health insurance options, including:

  • Dental and vision
  • Individual and family plans
  • Medicare, Medicare Advantage, and Medicare Supplement Insurance plans
  • Pharmacy

How Is Cigna Rated?

Trusted ratings and reviews can help you understand how an insurer’s plans stack up against the competition. See how we rated Cigna.

Financial strength rating: 4.5 Customer satisfaction rating: 4.1 Value rating: 4 Coverage rating: 4

Kaiser Permanente Student and Young Adult Health Insurance: Best for one-stop care

Kaiser Permanente Logo 2

Company Overview
Overall rating: 4.6
Company founded 1945
Coverage area
  • California
  • Colorado
  • Georgia
  • Hawaii
  • Maryland
  • Oregon
  • Virginia
  • Washington
  • Washington, D.C.
A.M. Best rating A+
BBB rating A
NCQA accreditation Yes
NCQA rating 5 to 4
Plans available
  • Employer plans
  • Family health insurance
  • Individual health insurance
  • Medicaid/Medi-Cal
  • Medicare
Provider network Over 22,000 Permanente Medical Group physicians and clinicians

Kaiser Permanente‘s plans are only available in Washington, D.C., and eight states. But with this insurer, you can access over 22,000 medical group physicians and its hospitals. It offers a wide array of health care plans, including individual coverage if you’re looking for affordable student and young adult health insurance plans. Explore Kaiser Permanente coverage options and assess limitations before choosing this provider.

Is Kaiser Permanente a Good Student Health Insurance Provider?

What we like about Kaiser Permanente health insurance plans: The drawbacks of Kaiser Permanente health insurance plans:
  • Doctors’ offices, pharmacies, and labs are housed under one roof
  • A wide array of plans to choose from
  • May be required to use only Kaiser physicians and treatment facilities
  • Only available in eight states

What Do Kaiser Permanente Student Health Insurance Plans Cover?

Kaiser Permanente offers several health insurance options, including:

  • Employer plans
  • Family health insurance
  • Individual health insurance
  • Medicaid/Medi-Cal
  • Medicare

How Is Kaiser Permanente Rated?

Trusted ratings and reviews can help you understand how an insurer’s plans stack up against the competition. See how we rated Kaiser Permanente.

Financial strength rating: 5 Customer satisfaction rating: 4.5 Value rating: 4.8 Coverage rating: 4

Pivot Student and Young Adult Health Insurance: Best for budget options

Pivot-Student-and-Young-Adult-Health-Insurance

Company Overview
Overall rating: 3.9
Company founded 2015
Coverage area Available in 26 states and Washington, D.C.
A.M. Best rating A+
BBB rating C
NCQA accreditation No
NCQA rating N/A
Plans available
  • Dental
  • Individual and Medicare supplement insurance
  • Limited benefit insurance
  • Pre-Medicare and Medicare
  • Short-term insurance
  • Vision
Provider network Large

Pivot Health offers health insurance plans in all 26 states and Washington, D.C. Plans include dental, short-term medical, and supplemental health insurance. It also offers limited benefit insurance, which can be an affordable alternative to major medical insurance if you’re young and healthy. However, it doesn’t offer traditional individual and family insurance plans. Compare products to see if Pivot Health is right for you.

Is Pivot Health a Good Student Health Insurance Provider?

What we like about Pivot Health insurance plans: The drawbacks of Pivot Health insurance plans:
  • Plans available in 26 states
  • Alternatives to major medical insurance
  • Economical plans to fit multiple budgets
  • Traditional plans aren’t available
  • Coverage may be limited

What Do Pivot Health Student Health Insurance Plans Cover?

Pivot Health offers several health insurance options, including:

  • Dental
  • Individual and Medicare supplement insurance
  • Limited benefit insurance
  • Pre-Medicare and Medicare
  • Short-term insurance
  • Vision

How Is Pivot Health Rated?

Trusted ratings and reviews can help you understand how an insurer’s plans stack up against the competition. See how we rated Pivot Health.

Financial strength rating: 5 Customer satisfaction rating: 3 Value rating: 3.5 Coverage rating: 4

UnitedHealthcare Student and Young Adult Health Insurance: Best for plan options

UnitedHealthcare Logo

Company Overview
Overall rating: 4.6
Company founded 1977
Coverage area All except New York
A.M. Best rating A-
BBB rating A+
NCQA accreditation Yes
NCQA rating 4.5 to 2.5
Provider network
  • 1.3 million physicians and care professionals
  • 6,500 hospitals and care facilities nationwide

UnitedHealthcare, founded in 1977, is the largest U.S. health insurance company, with an estimated 14% market share. It offers a broad range of health insurance policies and has an extensive network of physicians, hospitals, and health care providers. While premiums may be a bit high, UnitedHealthcare offers extras such as virtual consultations, travel insurance, and online tools for individuals and group policies.

Is UnitedHealthcare a Good Student Health Insurance Provider?

What we like about UnitedHealthcare health insurance plans: The drawbacks of UnitedHealthcare health insurance plans:
  • Provides a comprehensive array of health insurance plans
  • Offers short-term insurance plans
  • Services not available in New York State
  • Some plans aren’t available in every state

What Do UnitedHealthcare Student Health Insurance Plans Cover?

UnitedHealthcare offers numerous health insurance options, including:

  • Dental
  • Employer plans
  • Family health insurance
  • Individual health insurance
  • Marketplace plans
  • Medicaid
  • Medicare
  • Self-employed plans
  • Short-term/TriTerm insurance
  • Student plans
  • Supplemental
  • Vision

How Is UnitedHealthcare Rated?

Trusted ratings and reviews can help you understand how an insurer’s plans stack up against the competition. See how we rated UnitedHealthcare.

Financial strength rating: 4 Customer satisfaction rating: 4.8 Value rating: 4.8 Coverage rating: 4.8

How to Compare Student and Young Adult Health Insurance Companies

  • Find plans available in your area. Use the search tool found on most insurance providers’ websites to input your zip code and other details, such as student status, and let the system pull up the plans available in your area for comparison.
  • Research the network. If you already have a favored health care professional or facility, research an insurance company’s provider network. These networks include every doctor, hospital, and other health care facility contracted with the company to provide care.
  • Research prescription drug coverage. Prescription drugs may or may not be covered under a health care plan. Reduce your prescription costs by researching approved drug lists.
  • Compare monthly premiums. Monthly premiums are what you pay to keep your insurance plan active. Compare premiums to find affordable student and young adult insurance plans with the coverage you need.
  • Compare deductibles. Deductibles are an out-of-pocket expense you must pay before your insurance plan starts covering its portion of your health care costs. Higher premiums may result in lower deductibles, so consider this when comparing plans.
  • Compare copays. Once you meet your annual deductible, you must still cover the copay portion of each medical bill. Copayments usually differ for each plan based on the service you receive, so compare every copay included in plans you’re considering.
  • Research dental coverage. Oral health is important at any age, so research dental coverage to see what’s included. Some comprehensive medical plans may include certain preventive dental services, but many insurance plans require you to purchase separate dental coverage.
  • Check insurer ratings. Ratings and reviews give you an idea of what current and former members think of a health insurance provider. You can also check insurer ratings to see how well a provider stacks up against its competition.
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Tammy Burns
Insurance and health care consultant

Tammy Burns is an experienced health insurance advisor. She is ACA-certified for health insurance and other ancillary, life, and annuity products.

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