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    Health Care Reform:

    Health Insurance & Affordable Care Act

    Student Health and Accident Insurance Can Fill the Coverage Gap

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    This option adds health coverage. For example, a plan offered by Commercial Travelers Mutual Insurance Company, in Utica, N.Y., costs about $400 per year, says Duncan McCully, the company's vice president of special risk. It covers a student 24 hours a day for health and accident needs such as hospitalization, doctors'-office visits and some prescription costs. Maximum coverage is $25,000 per year or more, depending on the plan.

    College health plans, which typically cover both accidents and illness, are very customized, says McCully. A school asks a company to write a plan with specific coverage. A typical plan, he says, often covers 80 percent of usual and customary fees, up to a maximum of $25,000.

    "These plans are generally good for students who have come off their parents' plan," says McCully. The cost is about $400 or $500 per year. Plans with a much lower premium probably cover accidents only.

    Selection Criteria

    Before selecting a plan, do your homework:

    • Find out if the insurance company is licensed in your state. Know the name of the underwriter and call your State Department of Insurance or visit its Web site.
    • Look up the rating of the company. You can do this online at www.ambest.com (each rating report costs $4.95, payable by credit card). Or try your public library's reference department for Best's Insurance Reports or Standard & Poor's Insurance Company Ratings Guide. You can call Standard & Poor's at (212) 438-2400 and ask for the ratings of up to five companies.

    "Look for at least an A rating," suggests John Dietrick, CEO of Monarch Management Corporation, Topeka, Kan., which offers student policies. (A++ is tops.)

    • Find out what's covered and what's not. If a plan duplicates too much of the coverage provided by your primary plan, it's probably not a good deal. And don't assume everything will be covered, says Dietrick. If medical records submitted with a claim show that it's related to a pre-existing condition, it may not be paid, he says.

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