It’s important, however, to check specifics. Self-insured college plans — those in which the school pays claims directly, instead of hiring an insurance company to do so — don’t have to meet the law’s essential-benefits requirement, said Sara Collins, a health insurance expert at the Commonwealth Fund.
But again, some colleges are meeting them anyway. Northeastern University in Boston, for instance, says that even though it is self-insured, its health plan will include benefits that “meet or exceed” the law’s requirements.
(There had been concern that students eligible for student health plans at self-insured schools — which are in the minority — wouldn’t qualify for financial help on the new state-based health exchanges, which open for business Oct. 1 for coverage starting in January. But the federal government cleared up that confusion in recent regulations. As long as students at self-insured colleges don’t enroll in the school’s health plan, they may still qualify for subsidized coverage on an exchange, according to Kaiser Health News.)