Can college students qualify for Medicaid?

College is a challenging time, especially when you have to pay tuition. Thus, saving money where you can is crucial. In this article, we will be exploring whether college students qualify for Medicaid. 

Medical insurance is for everyone, not only due to unforeseen circumstances that might come up. Just because students tend to be young, around 18-22, does not mean they are exceptionally healthy.

Because college students are known to party, overdrink and rely heavily on living on ramen packets, insurance is a must-have. Yet, college students tend to battle the odds and continue to live without ensuring their medical bills will be covered.

In fact, college students are the age range least insured in the nation. Therefore, exploring possible options to maintain a low-cost medical insurance plan throughout college is crucial. 

Below we will discuss the various alternatives that are available, why it is crucial, and learn whether college students qualify for Medicaid.

college students qualify for Medicaid

Medicaid– What is it?

A program that targets needy individuals such as low-income families, the elderly, the disabled, and pregnant women. Now, Medicaid can also be applied to adults who live under a certain income level.

Having Medicaid will allow you to go to the doctor and avoid racking up a huge bill. A significant chunk of the bill, if not all, will be covered by the program, leaving you having to pay a minimum cost, usually referred to as a co-pay cost.

Keep in mind that the state you are in can cause a range in income level. Thus, you may qualify for Medicaid in one state but not another. When moving states for college, this is an important thing to research!

What does it cover?

States are the ones that administer the Medicaid program based on their state’s population. This means that what is covered, for how long, and at what cost are all factors that may differ.

The federal government also plays a role in determining what states must provide, referred to as mandatory benefits, and benefits that states can choose to provide, called optional benefits.

Mandatory benefits under Medicaid

Federal law requires states to provide the following services under the Medicaid program:

  • Home Health Care
  • Laboratory
  • Physician
  • Hospital Services
  • X-Rays

Optional benefits under Medicaid

The following benefits and services are not required by federal law. Still, they can often be provided by the state under the Medicaid program:

  • Physical and Occupational Therapy
  • Case Management
  • Prescription coverage

Remember that it is directly connected to your state’s offered benefits, so read up and research Medicaid for your state to find out more details.

The Fine Print

Some college students qualify for Medicaid, but not all do. For instance, you cannot be your parents’ dependent to apply. Thus, you will need to file taxes individually to qualify to apply.

Furthermore, to apply for and receive Medicaid, you must be a resident of the state in which you wish to receive it. Therefore, if you are a Florida resident and move out of state for college, you will no longer be allowed to be eligible.

If you choose to stay in Florida, you can then apply as a Florida resident. Or you might go through the process of being a resident of another state if you wish to.

Your income must also meet the criteria that are needed to apply. In this case, $17,600 is the cut-off point for a single individual. So, if you are making more yearly, Medicaid will not apply to you.

Nevertheless, most college students only work part-time or might not make that income even if working full-time. Therefore, it is probable that you meet the requirements.

It is important to apply if possible, as you will receive medical insurance for little to no cost to you. Leaving the extra money to help cover tuition and allowing you to focus more on your classes.

Do you think that your tuition is way too high? Can College Tuition Be Negotiated? Check out the guide, and learn how you can lower your tuition!

Always research your state’s requirements and benefits. And begin studying if the school of your dreams will allow you to have Medicaid on the side or if you will need to pay out of pocket, as that is an added cost to your move to college.

Medicaid Eligibility

As previously mentioned, there are factors and requirements individuals must meet in order to be eligible to gain Medicaid, which can vary from state to state.

Keep in mind that the requirements below are generally used to judge whether individuals are in need of the state’s assistance:

  • Disabled
  • Pregnant
  • Low-Income
  • Non-Dependent
  • A resident of the state

Under low income most college students qualify for Medicaid. Especially since working part-time will not achieve or surpass the maximum salary that disqualifies you for Medicaid.

However, you cannot apply if your parents cover your insurance or file you as a dependent in their taxes.


There isn’t just one way to go about things. In fact, you might benefit more from staying in your parent’s plan, applying for marketplace insurance, or choosing university insurance.

Let’s break down all the additional options you can have below to make the decision easier for you.

Parents’ Insurance

If you are your parents’ favorite child, they might let you stay on their insurance and cover it for you. They can add you to their plan during the enrollment period if you are not already in it.

Keep in mind that you may rely on insurance from your parents until you turn 26 years old because of the Affordable Care Act. After that, you will need to purchase your own.

This is an excellent option if you are heading out of the state because insurance companies usually cover all over the nation. 

The only catch is that you must stay in-network, which means you must choose hospitals, doctors, and specialists covered by your insurance. 

If you choose to visit a doctor out of the network of your provided, you will need to pay out of pocket and handle the bill yourself. Therefore, carefully research and ask if your insurance is covered prior to receiving treatment.

University-Based Insurance

Another option is to turn to your school. Many universities already have clinics or other amenities to help students care for their health. Nevertheless, this coverage tends to be restricted and limited.

Whether you receive insurance from your parents, employer, or even Medicaid, you should explore this option. Are you aware that your tuition might be paying for clinic visits? Take advantage of the amenities provided by your university and covered by your money.

If not covered in your tuition, you might find that your university has a program for student insurance that is more affordable to you. 

Furthermore, you should be aware that the care will most likely be limited. Still, it is vital to have it for treatments for colds, the flu, fever, and other issues that might come up.

Working for Insurance

You can also make money while receiving insurance through an employer. Understand that working in college is not for everyone. Thus, do it if you are sure it will not affect your academic performance.

Asking your current or possible employer about the company’s insurance and what it covers can also be a way to qualify to receive coverage and make sure that you won’t have a crazy bill to cover out-of-pocket. 

Final Thoughts

So, some college students qualify for Medicaid. But it is not the only option out there. It is vital to research the state you plan to apply for Medicaid in and not be your parents’ dependent.

You do not have to go this route. Staying in your parents’ insurance might be more worth your time, or talking to your university to understand what programs they offer.

Don’t neglect how important your health is, and use up all the amenities available to you when you are in college, as many of them are covered by your tuition and fees.

Hitting the gym a couple of days a week, eating at home instead of on campus, and walking class to class instead of driving or using other transportation methods can help you become healthier.

2 thoughts on “Can college students qualify for Medicaid?”

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