Medi-Cal or student health insurance for a CA student studying in Texas?
July 28, 2013 10:18 PM   Subscribe

Which option is best for a broke student going to school out of state?

I'm 20 years old from a low income family and have been insured with Aetna's student health insurance for the past two years. Prior to that, I (and my family) qualified for Medi-Cal and it covered my needs.

However, when I started college I wasn't sure if Medi-Cal would work out of state, or if it would continue to cover me. My parents didn't know either, but encouraged me to err on the side of caution. I took the offered student plan for two years (with some of my loans) and my doctor visits came with a co-pay.

I'm transferring schools and have been offered the student plan again. This school has provided for me an awesome, no loan financial aid (grants + work study) package. Included in it is the health care. I'm beginning to think if I could get back on Medi-Cal, I wouldn't have to pay the sum for health insurance. I'm certain I fit the income parameters, as my whole family is covered.

My question is if Medi-Cal is still viable for a California student studying in Texas. I identify/am registered as a CA resident, and am just going to school out of state- would Medi-Cal still cover me? Are there any benefits to Aetna's student health plan versus Medi-Cal? Would it just be safer to take the Aetna plan?
posted by flying_trapeze to Health & Fitness (2 answers total)
I'm also an out of state student studying in TX, originally from CA, but I have no legal expertise outside of my personal experience, so ymmv. I am also on an Aetna student insurance. You should probably take the student plan if you can afford the financial cost of it without undue hardship.

1) I believe that medi-cal for the most part only covers out of state emergency treatment, or specific treatments that are approved as part of a treatment plan. And it is meant for temporary trips, otherwise it suggests your local states medicaid. Now, CA residency can be a difficult thing to leave from a tax sense if you consider it your domicile, so whether this case is temporary or not I can not say. See this, 540-1. And this, #23 Medi-cal has a contact page here, I would try calling them and explaing the specifics as they are doubtlessly more knowledgeable than I.

But, 2) Your school's plan will most likely be far more convenient as well - particularly if there is an on campus health clinic and the like. Making appointments, insurance billing, etc will (in my experience from a couple of different institutions) be handled more quickly, smoothly and trouble free than having to find an acceptable provider which in my experience, in Texas, has resulted in long wait times and insurance billing snafus. Plus, that provider has been a gp some distance from my campus, etc. Total pain in the ass. Also more expensive than when I have gotten treated in person through school plans.

me-mail me if you like and I can give you some more specifics of situation/experiences which is maybe similar in some ways (out of state student) but not others (state health plan).
posted by McSwaggers at 10:42 PM on July 28, 2013

One thing to keep in mind is if Texas providers will take Medi-cal and since they states aren't close to each other, most may not. I have worked for medical offices in Texas which will charge you full price because they have no obligation not to and are not getting anything from Medi-Cal because they aren't in network. Personally, I'd stick with the student insurance until you're back in CA.
posted by Attackpanda at 8:46 PM on July 29, 2013

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