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How to Make the Most of Your College Health Insurance Plan

January 20, 2018

As a college student, chances are your health plan is still part of your parents' plan. But taking care of your health is about more than just being insured, and college is the time when many students are taking their care into their own hands for the first time.

To get the most out of your university health plan, you need to know what it offers and understand what kinds of co-payments are required. Take time to review your coverage before you need to use it so you can create a plan of action if you get sick or are injured.

Know What You Need (and Where You'll Go)

The search for the right doctor should begin before you need medical attention. If you've moved out of state (or even just a couple of hours from home), you'll need to look for a new physician. Research the doctors that are included in your plan, and ask for recommendations from other students or even your student advisor. Online reviews are also a great place to get more information on doctors.

Once you find a doctor you like, call his or her office and find out if they're accepting new patients. You'll also want to find out how long the typical wait time is for an appointment. Is this a doctor you'll be able to get in to see immediately, or will you have to wait a few days? Also, if you have a pre-existing or ongoing medical condition, make sure your new doctor has experience treating it.

Since your college health insurance plan includes preventive services like a wellness visit and immunizations, use this visit as a way to meet your chosen doctor. If you're not comfortable with your selection, keep looking!

Also, as a backup to your primary care doctor, find an urgent care center near you. Urgent care can provide many of the services your regular doctor provides when your doctor can’t see you, like after hour and weekends.

Take Charge of Your Health

Regular doctor visits are only part of caring for your health; adopting healthier habits is important, too. A healthy immune system makes you less vulnerable to colds and flu, so try to implement all of these habits:

  • Get plenty of sleep: Without proper sleep, your immune system can't function at its best (and neither can your brain). Aim for at least seven hours a night.
  • Eat right: This means several servings of fruit and veggies every day and choosing healthy snacks over sugary treats or junk food.
  • Watch your fluids: Drink plenty of water, and limit caffeine and sodas, which dehydrate you. So does that other fluid popular on college campuses — alcohol — which also should only be consumed in moderation or, if you're under 21, not at all.
  • Get up and go: Exercise, whether it's hitting the gym, riding a bike, or taking a walk, is good for your body and helps your brain refocus, too.

The right college student health insurance plan and a good plan of action can make all the difference in your life. If you don't have health coverage, look for a plan with high deductibles, which will cost less each month in premiums but will still have you covered if you need it. Begin your search for college health plans here.