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Have a student off to college? Know your options for their health coverage


Most Horizon® plans offer options that cover college students in New Jersey or out of state

If your child is a new or returning college student this fall, you may have questions about how they can stay healthy. And that means having questions about their health insurance coverage.

Most colleges require coverage, and in some cases, offer their own plans. But which one is the right fit? The first place to look is your existing Horizon plan.

Children under age 26 can stay on their parent’s health insurance plan thanks to the Affordable Care Act. For many people, this is the easiest and most affordable way to keep college students covered.

But depending on where your child is going to school and the terms of your policy, there are several factors to consider in planning for your child’s back-to-school health insurance needs.

1. Understand your current coverage.

A student attending college in New Jersey will be covered under your existing Horizon plan.

If your child is going to an out-of-state college, you still may have options to help them stay covered under your existing plan.

  • BlueCard®: Check to see if you have BlueCard® coverage, which provides access to Blue Cross Blue Shield’s national network of hospitals and doctors. To see if you’re covered under BlueCard, check your insurance card for a suitcase icon in the lower right corner. If your card has the icon, you have BlueCard coverage and your child can access doctors or facilities in the BlueCard network throughout the United States. For members with BlueCard, care from a BlueCard in-network doctor or hospital can work just like seeing an in-network doctor here in New Jersey when it comes to your out-of-pocket costs — the same deductibles, copays and coinsurance apply. Benefit levels can vary so check your policy or benefit guide for details.
  • Away From Home Care Program: For students living away from home, certain Horizon plans offers the Away From Home Care Program at no additional cost.1,2 This program enables eligible members to get care from in-network doctors, facilities and other health care professionals where the member lives if they’re out of state for 90 consecutive days. Learn how to apply here.

If your plan doesn’t include BlueCard or the Away from Home Care Program but you have out-of-network benefits, your child will be covered under the specific terms of your policy’s out-of-network coverage. Keep in mind out-of-network doctors’ visits and procedures are more expensive than if you stay in-network.

One thing you can count on: You and your family are always covered in a medical emergency even when outside of New Jersey.

Contact Horizon if you have questions about the specifics of your plan’s coverage.

2. Explore the convenience of telehealth

Telehealth provides access to care when and where patients need it and can be a cost-effective option. Students who are staying on their parents’ plan may have access to Horizon CareOnline℠ and be able to talk with a doctor or behavioral health specialist via video (like Skype or FaceTime), chat or phone.3 Horizon members can access telemedicine and nurse chat services 24/7 after downloading the Horizon Blue app.

Review your plan to check your eligibility and the availability of these services in the state where your child is going to college.

3. Review other coverage options

Most colleges offer Student Health Insurance Plans (SHIPs), with premiums paid through tuition or financial aid. Most of the time, students will be required to see doctors on-campus or in the surrounding area, but some plans offer extended coverage even when a student is back home. If a student Is not using their school's SHIP, they may be able to eliminate or reduce student health fees upon presenting proof of other insurance. 

Some students may be able to purchase health insurance through a marketplace run by the state or federal government. If students qualify, they may receive financial subsidies to pay for their plans. For students who qualify, Medicaid may also be an option that provides free to extremely low-cost health care.

4. Get prepared

To help your child get off to a good start when the school year begins:

  • Find in-network providers near campus. If your child is staying on your Horizon plan, research in-network doctors and urgent care centers near campus. Horizon’s Doctor & Hospital Finder can help simplify the search. By doing a quick online search, you can also find an in-network pharmacy near the campus.
  • Download the Horizon Blue app. By downloading the Horizon Blue app, your child’s member ID card is just a tap away, and they can find in-network doctors and what’s covered under their plan, and access our 24/7 Nurse Line or telehealth services.
  • Find the school's clinic. Most colleges have on-campus facilities that offer free or low-cost health services, such as immunizations or routine health screenings. This is usually the best place to start for their everyday health needs, especially if your child doesn’t have off-campus transportation or your family hasn’t met its annual deductible.

Health insurance may be the last thing on your college student’s mind right now, but as a parent, you know their health and safety are always the first priority. During these uncertain times — when they may be living away from home for the first time — share with them an important life lesson: how health care and insurance work and how to get the care they need, when they need it.

There is no charge to download the Horizon Blue app, but rates from your wireless provider may apply.

This document is for informational purposes only and does not constitute a binding agreement.

BlueCard® is a registered mark of the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association. Horizon CareOnlineSM is a service mark of Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey.

1. Away From Home Care Program is not eligible for members who have BlueCard plans, plans with out-of-network benefits, or HSA- eligible plans.

2. There are a few states where Away from Home Care Program is not available. To confirm if your child is residing in a covered state, please call please call 1-973-466-8091.

3. Not all members have access to Horizon CareOnline. Members should check with their benefits administrator or plan documents.