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Best Health Insurance Companies for College Students

How to choose the best insurance if you are a college student
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Health insurance might not seem like a priority if you’re a college student. Maybe you’re accustomed to having coverage through your parents’ policy, or you don’t think you’ll need it because you’re in good health. But it’s important to remember that healthcare is expensive in the United States, and an accident or injury could leave you deeply in debt.

For instance, if you’re uninsured, the average cost of just one doctor’s appointment is around $160. An ER visit can cost upwards of $1,389, and a three-day hospital stay an astonishing $30,000.

We analyzed various health options and companies to help you find the most suitable health insurance plan for your needs. We looked at factors including cost, coverage options, provider network, and industry rankings. Here are our top choices for the best health insurance for college students.

Best Health Insurance Companies for College Students

Blue Cross Blue Shield
4.9
Best Overall
Pivot
4.5
Best for Short-Term
Tokio Marine HCC Medical Insurance Services
4.3
Best for International Students
Best Overall

Blue Cross Blue Shield

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Rating: 4.9/5.0

For students looking for expansive countrywide and international coverage, range of coverage options, and low-cost premiums, Blue Cross Blue Shield was an easy pick for our best overall category.

About 115 million people countrywide rely on The Blue Cross Blue Shield Association (BCBSA) for healthcare coverage. Thanks to its student-specific plans, low-cost insurance options, range of benefits, and reward system, BCBSA was an obvious choice for our best overall pick.

The BCBSA comprises 35 independent entities, most of which have an AM Best financial strength rating of A (Excellent).4 You’ll be directed to your local provider when you input your ZIP code to the BCBSA website. Depending on your location, you can choose from tiers of coverage from catastrophic through to fully comprehensive platinum. You can also customize plans with dental and vision insurance.

Catastrophic coverage has lower monthly premiums but higher deductibles and out-of-pocket maximum. The coverage doesn’t max out. People of any age can join the bronze through platinum plans, but you must be under 30 to enroll in a catastrophic policy.

For these Marketplace plans, you’ll need to wait for an enrollment period to join, and coverage will begin on January 1st. Short-term plans are available to fill any gaps in coverage.

People cannot be excluded for health conditions, but exclusions include cosmetic and experimental procedures and long-term care. Because BCBSA teams with colleges nationwide, students may find cheaper coverage options through their school. Students with low incomes may also qualify for government subsidies to lower their insurance costs.

Students can enjoy additional benefits from BCBSA, including dental, pet insurance, fitness products, and meal subscription discounts.

States Available
  • Alabama
  • Alaska
  • Arizona
  • Arkansas
  • California
  • Canal Zone
  • Colorado
  • Connecticut
  • Delaware
  • District of Columbia
  • Florida
  • Georgia
  • Guam
  • Hawaii
  • Idaho
  • Illinois
  • Indiana
  • Iowa
  • Kansas
  • Kentucky
  • Louisiana
  • Maine
  • Maryland
  • Massachusetts
  • Michigan
  • Minnesota
  • Mississippi
  • Missouri
  • Montana
  • Nebraska
  • Nevada
  • New Hampshire
  • New Jersey
  • New Mexico
  • New York
  • North Carolina
  • North Dakota
  • Ohio
  • Oklahoma
  • Oregon
  • Pennsylvania
  • Puerto Rico
  • Rhode Island
  • South Carolina
  • South Dakota
  • Tennessee
  • Texas
  • Utah
  • Vermont
  • Virgin Islands
  • Virginia
  • Washington
  • West Virginia
  • Wisconsin
  • Wyoming
BEST FOR SHORT-TERM HEALTH INSURANCE

Pivot

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Rating: 4.5/5.0

Pivot is our best short-term health insurance pick for college students as the policies are flexible, don’t tie you to a network, and students can fit healthcare around their schedule thanks to Pivot’s telemedicine services. Plus, discount programs provide opportunities to save money.

Students often have hectic and varied schedules. Finding time to visit the doctor isn’t a problem with Pivot, as you can use their around-the-clock telehealth service or book an appointment with any convenient doctor. Their flexible and economically-friendly policies make Pivot our preferred short-term health insurance pick for students.

Deductibles start at $1,000. When you see a doctor or receive other covered health care services, there’s a coinsurance of 20% or 30%. Pivot caps the most you’ll pay out-of-pocket with coinsurance at between $3,000 and $10,000 before the plan coverage limit is met.

Coverage maxes out at $1 million, and policy durations and renewability vary by state. Six months is a common policy term. You can customize your plan with things such as dental and vision coverage.

A significant advantage of short-term insurance policies is the short waiting time. In most cases with Pivot, coverage can begin within instantly after approval. However, there are some disadvantages, including exclusions for pre-existing conditions, sexually transmitted infections, maternity care, and more.

Pivot Health was founded in 2016. It’s since partnered with the AM Best A+ rated Companion Life Insurance Company to underwrite their short-term insurance plans.5 These plans are often more affordable than traditional health insurance coverage but are not covered by ACA regulations.

Residents of Washington D.C. and 27 states aged under 65 can buy a Pivot policy. Using the online quotation system, you can tailor the features of their policies.

States Available
  • Alabama
  • Alaska
  • Arizona
  • Arkansas
  • California
  • Canal Zone
  • Colorado
  • Connecticut
  • Delaware
  • District of Columbia
  • Florida
  • Georgia
  • Guam
  • Hawaii
  • Idaho
  • Illinois
  • Indiana
  • Iowa
  • Kansas
  • Kentucky
  • Louisiana
  • Maine
  • Maryland
  • Massachusetts
  • Michigan
  • Minnesota
  • Mississippi
  • Missouri
  • Montana
  • Nebraska
  • Nevada
  • New Hampshire
  • New Jersey
  • New Mexico
  • New York
  • North Carolina
  • North Dakota
  • Ohio
  • Oklahoma
  • Oregon
  • Pennsylvania
  • Puerto Rico
  • Rhode Island
  • South Carolina
  • South Dakota
  • Tennessee
  • Texas
  • Utah
  • Vermont
  • Virgin Islands
  • Virginia
  • Washington
  • West Virginia
  • Wisconsin
  • Wyoming
BEST FOR INTERNATIONAL STUDENTS

Tokio Marine HCC Medical Insurance Services

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Rating: 4.3/5.0

Tokio Marine HCC Medical Insurance Services took our top spot for international student insurance thanks to their multiple low-cost plan options with high maximum limits and low deductibles.

Adequate health insurance is crucial to students from other countries studying in the United States. Students may find it’s a requirement of their visa or the school, but even if it isn’t, it’s a wise precaution against the prohibitive bills resulting from an accident or illness.

Tokio Marine provides low-cost, high-benefit plans for visiting students across the United States, which is why they are our best option for international students. With Tokio Marine, you can add accidental death and crisis response riders to your coverage, and personal liability coverage is included with certain policies.

Students aged up to 65 can choose from four tiers of Student Secure coverage. Smart Cover is the most basic plan with $200,000 coverage, and Comprehensive Elite policies provide coverage that maxes out at $5 million. Policies of any length are available, providing the policyholder is a full-time student, and policy coverage begins on your chosen start date.

However, this doesn’t apply to pre-existing conditions. The Smart policy doesn’t cover any pre-existing conditions, and with the Budget Policy, there’s a 12-month waiting period. However, the Select and Elite options cover pre-existing conditions after the policy has been in place for six months. There’s also a long list of exclusions, including shots, eye surgery, and injuries that occur while under the influence of illicit drugs.

Based in Houston, the Tokio Marine HCC offers health and life insurance in over 180 countries and has an A+ (Superior) financial rating from A.M. Best.6

States Available
  • Alabama
  • Alaska
  • Arizona
  • Arkansas
  • California
  • Canal Zone
  • Colorado
  • Connecticut
  • Delaware
  • District of Columbia
  • Florida
  • Georgia
  • Guam
  • Hawaii
  • Tennessee
  • Texas
  • Utah
  • Vermont
  • Virgin Islands
  • Virginia
  • Washington
  • West Virginia
  • Wisconsin
  • Wyoming

Final Verdict

Health insurance for college students helps cover the cost of expensive doctor’s appointments, medical treatments, prescription drugs, and more. Even if you feel you don’t need it, your college may require that students enroll in a health insurance policy.

Overall, our top pick for students is Blue Cross Blue Shield. If you’re looking for countrywide coverage, a range of options, and economical premiums, it’s an ideal choice. The BCBSA also partners with colleges to provide student-specific plans at potentially even lower prices.

If you’re looking for short-term insurance, then our top pick, Pivot, may fit the bill. Its policies are flexible, and even a demanding lecture schedule won’t be a barrier to health care, thanks to Pivot’s telemedicine services. They also offer discount programs to save money.

For international students, health insurance is crucial, both for visa requirements and to provide a financial safety net. Tokio Marine HCC Medical Insurance Services is our top choice for international student insurance because they offer multiple, low-cost plan options that meet J1 visa requirements.

Compare Providers

Best Health Insurance For College Students
  1. Best Overall: Blue Cross Blue Shield
  2. Best For Short-Term Health Insurance: Pivot
  3. Best For International Students: Tokio Marine HCC Medical Insurance Services

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