SOURCE: eHealth, Inc.

eHealth, Inc.

October 13, 2009 09:00 ET

Student Health Insurance: eHealth Reviews Plans Available to University Students -- Offers Five Tips

eHealth, Inc. Research Shows College Students Are Unaware of Some Key Health Insurance Fundamentals

MOUNTAIN VIEW, CA--(Marketwire - October 13, 2009) - University students are returning to Fall classes at a time when many are less likely to find jobs that offer health insurance benefits after graduation, and others are at a relatively high-risk for acquiring the H1N1 virus. At the same time, a series of independent reports from bloggers and journalists have been written to address the quality of student health insurance plans.

Nation-wide, journalists including Jackie Johnson at Wisconsin Public Radio, Francesca Lunzer Kritz at the Los Angeles Times, Makenzie Marineau at the Daily Barometer, Douglas Jennings at the Utah Chronicle, and Roman Zhuk at have stressed the need for students and/or their parents to carefully consider their options for health coverage.

To address some of the questions raised, eHealthInsurance ( conducted an independent review of health plans offered by 10 of the largest public universities in the country and found that monthly premiums and deductibles were fairly consistent among most plans, while annual out-of-pocket maximums and lifetime coverage limits varied(1).

Further complicating the matter, a 2009 eHealthInsurance survey(2) showed the majority of college students could not confidently define premiums, deductibles, annual out-of-pocket maximums and lifetime coverage limits; the items that constitute the basic components of a health insurance product.

This confusion may be partially responsible for the increasing number of college students who are going without health insurance. A 2009 report by the Lookout Mountain Group(3) (LMG) found that over 4 million college students are uninsured; approximately 9 percent of the total uninsured population in the United States. According to the LMG report, 57 percent of all colleges sponsored student health plans, but, the plans varied greatly from school to school.

To help students (and their parents) who may be grappling with decisions about purchasing college plans or selecting other forms of medical coverage, eHealthInsurance has provided its health insurance buyer's guide for students located at

eHealth has also provided five tips for first-time student buyers, along with a summary of findings from eHealthInsurance's review of student health insurance plans offered by 10 leading Universities.

Tips for reviewing University plans:
1. Before you buy, make sure you know what all of your health coverage options are:
-- Your parents' plan: If your parents obtain their health insurance through a group/employer sponsored plan, then in most cases, college students who were covered by their parents' plan in high school are eligible to remain on that insurance policy. Many plans require students to be on full-time class schedule in order to stay on their parents' plan and many policies require students to drop off the plan once they turn 25.
-- Plans offered through your University: The plans eHealth reviewed provided students with access to preventive care and typically provided at least $50,000 for care received on or off campus. In most cases students received more favorable pricing terms for care delivered by a provider in the insurer's network
-- Individual health insurance policies: Parents and students looking to save money on monthly premiums may also want to consider purchasing individual health insurance policies.
-- Free or low cost-government programs: Many Americans are not aware of free or low-cost health care programs that are available for people who cannot afford or qualify for private insurance, or who don't have access to employer-provided coverage. Any student searching for these programs can contact's Customer Care Center or contact the Foundation for Health Coverage Education directly at

2. Know where to go for care: Many students who are out on their own for the first time may never think about how or where to go for care until an emergency pops up.
-- On-campus clinics: Many colleges and Universities have student clinics on campus that provide varying degrees of basic care; some may offer advanced care as well. For students living on or near campus, these clinics may be your best source for low-cost, high-quality preventive care. You may also want to find out if they can provide emergency care.
-- Physicians and Care Centers in your network: Most health plans will provide you with reduced rates from care providers that are in your health plan's network. When you get care outside of your network, the cost typically goes up. So, before you choose a health insurance product, it's a good idea to find out if the places you're most likely to go for care are included in the plan's network.
-- Emergency Rooms: Emergency rooms are an excellent resource when you have a medical emergency. But, when you don't have a medical emergency, it's a good idea to try to find care somewhere else first. Any form of care provided in an emergency room is typically very expensive and, with or without insurance, the costs for delivering that care can often be extremely high.

3. Understand how pre-existing medical conditions can impact your ability to obtain medical coverage on different plan types:
-- Your parents' plan: Pre-existing medical conditions are typically not an issue as long as you stay on your parents' plan.
-- University plans: If a student has not had a gap in creditable coverage, the majority of student plans offered through a College or University will provide some level of coverage for most pre-existing medical conditions.
-- Individual health Insurance plans: Insurance companies can choose not to offer a student an individual health insurance product for reasons including a pre-existing condition.

4. Understand the value of a maximum coverage amount or lifetime coverage limit: When buying health insurance, one of the things you're paying for is a maximum amount of coverage, which is typically referred to in a health insurance policy as a "maximum coverage amount."
-- Your parents' plan: If your parents get their insurance from their employer, they will be on what is called a group health insurance policy. These policies typically either do not have coverage maximums or have maximums that exceed $1 million of coverage.
-- University plans: Many of the student policies we reviewed have coverage maximums for each medical incident. So, for example, if a student has multiple unrelated accidents, each new accident will entitle them to the same dollar amount of coverage. However, if a student contracts a costly disease or long-term illness, the policy would only provide the single maximum coverage amount for all medical costs related to that illness.
-- Individual health insurance policies: Like group policies, some individual health insurance policies have coverage maximums and some do not. For those that do, the average amount of coverage available was $3.9 million and the median plan lifetime limit was $2 million, according to eHealthInsurance's 2008 Cost & Benefits report(4).

5. Research your ability to continue coverage after graduation under the plan you choose:
-- Your parents' plan: If your parents get their insurance from their employer, then in most cases, you can remain on your parents' plan after graduation, if you take advantage of COBRA laws, which give you an additional 18 months of access to that plan. The downside is that the cost of COBRA can be extremely cost-prohibitive.
-- University plans: The majority of the University plans eHealth reviewed allowed students to continue coverage after graduation for a short period of time -- from three months or up to one year.
-- Individual health insurance policies: One of the key benefits of individually purchased health insurance policies is that they're yours to keep.

Summary of eHealthInsurance findings from 10 University plans:
1. Premiums: Of the plans reviewed, monthly premiums ranged from about $90 to about $140, with some exceptions.
2. Deductibles: Most plans had deductibles, which ranged from $75 to $300 for in-network medical services, with some exceptions. In some cases deductibles were waived if care was received at campus medical centers.
3. Pre-existing conditions: The majority of plans covered pre-existing conditions, provided the student had not had a gap in creditable coverage. Again, there were some exceptions.
4. Out of pocket maximums: Most plans had out of pocket maximums, which ranged from $1,500 to $10,000 for in-network medical services, with some exceptions.
5. Lifetime coverage limits: Most plans had lifetime coverage limits, which ranged from $50,000 to $300,000 for in-network medical services, with some exceptions.
6. Coverage after graduation: All of the plans reviewed set a time limit or cap on the amount of time benefits could be kept after graduation. Of the plans we reviewed, the longest period of time allowed to extend benefits, barring medical reasons, was one year. In most cases coverage must be terminated within 3 months of graduation, again, barring medical reasons.

Average Individually
 Purchased Health                            Pre-existing   General Ability
 Insurance Policy from                        conditions      to continue
 eHealth's 2008 Cost &        Costs / Max   covered for new coverage after
 Benefits Report               Coverage       applicants      graduation
                            --------------- --------------- ---------------
Adults Aged: 18-24          -- Average      In most cases        Yes
                               Premium       not without
                               Male:         approval via
                               $94 per        medical
                               month        underwriting.
                            -- Average
                            -- Average
                            -- Average
                            -- Annual
                             *averages not
                             available but
                             most policies
                             range from $0
                             to $10,000.
                            higher maximums
                            may be offered
                            in some plans
                            --------------- --------------- ---------------
Average Group Health        Costs / Max     Pre-existing     Ability to
 Insurance Policy from       Coverage        conditions     continue after
 The Kaiser Family                           covered for    graduation for
 Foundation's Employer                      new applicants  non-medical
 Health Benefits 2009                                         reasons
 Annual Survey
                            --------------- --------------- ---------------
-- Students on group        -- Average           Yes        No. Some plans
   policies would              Annual                       have a firm age
   typically be dependants     Family                       cap of 25
   in a family plan where      Premium:                     years-old.
   the primary policy          $13,375
   holder is one of their      ($1,114 per
   parents.                    month -
                               $300 out of
-- On average, the          -- Average
   primary policy              deductible:
   holder on a group           $634 for
   policy contributes          PPOs, $699
   27% of the total            for HMOs,
   premium cost out            $1,061 for
   of their own pocket         POS plans,
   and their employer          and $1,838
   covers the remaining        for HDHP/SOs
   73%                      -- Annual out-
                               $1,500 or
                               less to
                               $3,000 or
                            -- Maximum
                               41% of
                               plans have
                               no lifetime
                               maximum, 16%
                               range from
                               $1 and $2
                               million, and
                               43% are $2
                               million or

School   Required    Offer    Costs / Max     Pre-existing    Ability to
 and        for     Referral   Coverage:       conditions      continue
Student  Admission?   For        For           covered for    graduation
 Plan               Student   In-Network     new applicants      for
                     Plan?   Services not                     non-medical
                              Provided On                      reasons
                            --------------- --------------- ---------------
Ohio          Yes   Yes     -- Premium:          Yes.              No
State                          $367 per     * With exceptions
University,                    quarter      related to gaps in
Columbus                       ($92 per     creditable coverage           month(5))    and duration of
finance/bursar/stud         -- Maximum      coverage.
enthealth.cfm                  coverage:
UnitedHealthCare:              $50,000
Policy number               -- Deductible:
06-BR-OH (Rev                  $75
07-09) 34-1103-01           -- Annual out-
                            --------------- --------------- ---------------
Arizona       No    Yes     -- Annual             Yes.             Yes,
State                          premium:     * With exceptions    for up to
University                     $1,523       related to gaps in   3 months
http://students.               ($126 per    creditable coverage               month(5))    and duration of
verageoptions               -- Deductible:  coverage.
Aetna Policy                   $250
Number 697443               -- Maximum
                            -- Annual out-
                            --------------- --------------- ---------------
University    No    Yes     -- Annual             Yes               No
of Florida                     premium      * With exceptions
http://www.shcc.               < 25:        related to gaps in             $1,391       creditable coverage,
shtml#insurance                ($116        duration of coverage
plan 2: Aetna                  per month    and the location where
Student Health                 (5))         service is delivered.
Policy No 474890            -- Annual
                               > = 25 :
                              ($145 per
                            -- Maximum
                            -- Deductible:
                            -- Annual out-
                            --------------- --------------- ---------------
University    Yes   Yes     -- Premium:           Yes       Yes, for up to
of Minnesota                   $1,814 per   * With limited  one year with
Twin Cities,                   year ($152   exceptions      exceptions
Minneapolis                    per month(5))
http://www.s-hb.            -- Annual out-                       of-pocket
index.htm                      maximum:
University-sponsored           $2000
Student Health
Benefit Plan
                            --------------- --------------- ---------------
University    No    Yes     -- Annual             Yes            Yes,
of Texas at                    Premium:     * With exceptions  for up to
Austin                         $1,100 ($92   related to gaps  six months
http://healthyhorns.           per month(5)) in creditable                 -- Deductible:   coverage and
insurance.html                 $300          duration of
UnitedHealthCare            -- Maximum       coverage.
06-BR-TX-PPO (Rev 07-08)       coverage:
                            -- Annual out-
                            --------------- --------------- ---------------
University    Yes   Yes     -- Annual             Yes            No
of Central                     Premium:     * With exceptions
Florida                        $1,384       related to gaps
Aetna Student                  ($116 per    in creditable
Health Plan:                   month(5))    coverage and
http://www.hs.sdes.         -- Maximum      duration of          coverage:    coverage.
insurance.html                 $250,000
                            -- Deductible:
                            -- Annual out-
                            --------------- --------------- ---------------
Michigan      No    Yes     -- Annual             Yes            Yes,
State                          premium:     * With exceptions  for up to
University:                    $1,390 per    related to gaps   9 months                 year ($116    in creditable                       per month(5)) coverage and
benefits/                   -- Maximum       duration of
studenthealth/                 coverage:     coverage.
index.htm                      $50,000 per
Aetna Life                     accident or
Insurance Company              illness
(ALIC)                      -- Deductible:
Policy Number                  $150
711130                      -- Annual out-
                            --------------- --------------- ---------------
Texas A&M     No    Yes     -- Annual       Yes, with some   Yes, for one
University:                    premium:     limitations and  year
http://www.                    $1,213       exceptions.
aipinternational.              ($102 per
com/TAM/                       month(5))
plan_select.html            -- Deductible:
Delos Insurance                $250
Company                     -- Maximum
50K Plan:                      coverage:
Policy #                       $50,000 per
DSP0003209                     condition
                            -- Annual out-
                            --------------- --------------- ---------------
University    Call  Yes     -- Annual             Yes             No
of South                       premium:     * With exceptions
Florida                        $1,539       related to gaps
http://                        ($129 per    in creditable      month(5))    coverage and
PDF/Brochure%2009-10.pdf    -- Deductible:  duration of
Blue Cross/                    $300         coverage.
Blue Shield: BCBSF          -- Maximum
Group #                        coverage per
65145                          year:
                            -- Annual
                               from service to
                               service, but
                               typically the
                               deductible, plus
                               80% of the
                               allowed benefit.
                            --------------- --------------- ---------------
Pennsylvania  No    Yes     -- Annual       Yes, with some        No
State                          premium:     limitations and
University                     $1,107       exceptions.
06-BR-PA                       ($93 per
(Rev 07-08)                    month(5))              -- Deductible:                   $50
basics/                     -- Maximum
insurance.cfm                  coverage:
                               $50,000 per
                               injury or
                            -- Annual
                               maximum: $150

eHealth has also provided links to the student health insurance pages of 20 of the largest Public and Private University Campuses in the United States.

1. Nova Southeastern University
2. Columbia University
3. Northeastern University
4. DePaul University
5. Long Island University
6. University of Pennsylvania
7. George Washington University
8. Harvard University
9. Cornell University
10. Syracuse University
11. University of Washington
12. University of Wisconsin-Madison
13. University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
14. University of Michigan
15. Florid a International University
16. New York University
17. Brigham Young University
18. University of Southern California
19. Boston University
20. Liberty University

(1) The review conducted by eHealth, Inc. was done by a random sampling of Universities. The review is not meant to indicate or predict any trends or practices. This information is presented for the sole purpose of illustrating the diversity of health insurance products available and should, in no way, be perceived as a comment on the value or quality of insurance products recommended or offered by the Universities listed.
(2) eHealth, Inc. Consumer Survey of College Students, May 14, 2009 (
(3) Analysis and Policy Recommendations for Providing Health Insurance and Health Care Services for the College Student Population, p. 31, Lookout Mountain Group, June 2, 2009.
(4) eHealth, Inc. Cost And Benefits Of Individual And Family Health Insurance Plans, November 2008 uses 2007 plan data:
(5) All dollar amounts listed for premiums are rounded up to the nearest full dollar.

About eHealth
eHealth, Inc. (NASDAQ: EHTH) is the parent company of eHealthInsurance, the nation's leading online source of health insurance for individuals, families and small businesses. Through the company's website,, consumers can get quotes from leading health insurance carriers, compare plans side by side, and apply for and purchase health insurance. eHealthInsurance offers thousands of health plans underwritten by more than 180 of the nation's leading health insurance companies. eHealthInsurance is licensed to sell health insurance in all 50 states and the District of Columbia, making it a functioning national health insurance exchange. Through its eCommerce On-Demand solution (eOD),, eHealth is also a leading provider of on-demand e-commerce software services. eHealth's eOD platform provides a suite of hosted solutions that enable health plan providers and resellers to market and distribute products online. eHealth's eCommerce On-Demand solution is currently available to health plan providers in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. eHealthInsurance and eHealth are registered trademarks of eHealthInsurance Services, Inc.

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