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What is health insurance? 

Put simply, health insurance protects us from the high cost of healthcare services. It comes in various forms (see below), but essentially it is a plan that provides payment to healthcare providers when we engage in preventive care and when we seek care for an illness or injury. Unfortunately, healthcare access and insurance are complicated, but here’s a 5-minute video from the Kaiser Family Foundation that explains the basics. 

Do I currently have health insurance coverage? 

If you are not sure, you can start by asking a parent/guardian to see if you are covered on a plan which they might have through their employment. If you are, be sure to ask for a card (or a picture stored on your mobile device works great too!) that has all of the necessary information on coverage. Or, you may have coverage through another type of plan, such as Medicaid which is insurance through the state of Illinois (or your home state). If you remain unsure about your current coverage, contact us here at the Wellness Center. 

Is health insurance mandatory for DU students? 

No, but it is highly recommended. If you don't have insurance and need help reviewing the options, contact us here at the Wellness Center. We can assist you in finding quality and affordable coverage. 

Why do I need insurance if I’m healthy? 

In short, health insurance is securing the investment you are making in your education and your future. Without coverage, a trip to the emergency room due to a sudden illness or injury could set you back financially and interfere with your persistence in school.  Moreover, lack of coverage may deter you from seeking proper care which could compromise your wellbeing today and for the future. 

What are my options? 

Employer Group Major Medical (also called Comprehensive or Traditional) 

These plans are usually offered by employers, and the employer and employee share the cost of the insurance. Usually, employers also offer coverage for their employee’s family, including children up through age 26. Every plan varies, but because a large group is enrolled, it can be more affordable and cover more with more choice about which doctors and hospitals you can use. If you are studying away from home, out of state or abroad, finding medical providers, (particularly specialists) near your school who are ‘in network’ and thus more affordable can be difficult or sometimes impossible. 

Employers may also offer HMO Insurance which is often lower in price. The major difference with HMO insurance is that you would have less to pay at the time of care and that your options for where you can seek care is limited to a specific network of hospitals, clinics, and providers. In addition, the HMO or your doctor may have to approve all but emergency care.  When you are in college away from home, you may have to go to special efforts to get access to medical care near school. 

State Group Plans (also referred to as Medicaid) 

Medicaid is an insurance plan which is funded by the federal government but administered by each state. Illinois has participated in the federal expansion of Medicaid, so children and adults up to the age of 64 who are low income can be covered (as of January 2014). As a child, if you were covered through Medicaid (CHIP - Children’s Health Insurance Program) in Illinois, it is important to note that children’s coverage ends on your 19th birthday.  You may qualify for a Medicaid plan on your own. For more information, you can contact DU's Wellness Center or reach out to the clinic you and your family utilize for care. 

If you have Medicaid coverage from a state outside of Illinois, it is unlikely that your coverage extends here. Again, contact us for assistance.  

Individual or Private Plans 

Individual plans are just that, health insurance purchased for just you. Because you aren’t automatically eligible, as you would be as a part of an employee pool, or other group, you will have to apply through or a private broker. If you are comfortable with high out of pocket co-pays or deductibles (your share of the cost of healthcare) you can save on premiums. You should understand the limits and exclusions to these policies, too.

Travel Insurance and Temporary Insurance

Travel insurance and Temporary Insurance often has limits to its benefits and covers only a specific time period for the policy and a limited time period afterwards. It does not cover pre-existing health conditions. It’s affordable and it does cover you when you are away from your usual providers. 

Health insurance is complicated! I’m so confused! Where do I start?!? 

Short answer: With us at the Wellness Center! We will partner with you to examine available options to fit your current needs.

Reach out to the Wellness Center to schedule a Care Management appointment:  

  • Through our secure health portal: Wellness Center Online  

  • By phone at (708)524-6229 

  • In person in the lower level of Coughlin Hall (016)