One of the more confusing parts of adulting is understanding your health insurance. 

Many students are included in their parent’s health insurance until the age of 26. For those who are turning 26 soon, or that have recently lost their health insurance coverage, you may need to start exploring options soon to get yourself covered in the event of an emergency. Regardless of whether you are well-versed in insurance or not, let’s go over the basics of what insurance is and why it’s important. 

What is Insurance?

Insurance is a safety net that protects you in situations where you may experience unexpected costs or financial lossFor example, if you own a car, you must have auto insurance If you own a home or are renting a house or apartmentyou may have renter’s insurance or homeowners. You are most likely covered under some type of health insurance whether that be through your parents, through your place of employment or through a federal or state program such as Medicare, Medicaid, or MNsure 


Understanding Health Insurance  

What is Medicare?

Medicare is a federal health insurance program for: 

  • Those age 65 and older 
  • Younger people with disabilities 
  • People with end-stage renal disease 

Specifications of Medicare: 

  • Patients pay deductibles for hospital and other expenses  
  • For non-hospital coverage, monthly premiums are required  
  • Same in every state 

What is Medicaid?

Medicaid is a federal-state health insurance program for: 

  • Certain low-income individuals/families 
  • Pregnant Women 
  • If you are a parent or guardian of a child 18 years old or younger 
  • If you are 65+ and blind or disabled 

Specifications of Medicaid:  

  • Sends money directly to health care providers 
  • Occasionally, depending on the state, requires co-payments  

What is MNsure?

MNsure provides Minnesotans the opportunity to choose health insurance coverage that best suits their needs and allows them to receive financial help.  

Minnesota’s MNsure Marketplace offers: 

Private Health Plans 

  • Offered by insurance companies 
  • Financial help is available for those who qualify in terms of their income, household size, and the cost of insurance in your area


  • For Minnesotans with lower incomes, who don’t have access to affordable health care coverage or aren’t eligible for Medical assistance. 
  • Monthly premiums are determined by income and family size 

Medical Assistance  

  • Covers low-income individuals
    • Children  
    • Pregnant women 
  • No monthly premium  

Special Enrollment  

  • Allows people who experience certain life events to sign up for health coverage outside of the open enrollment period.  
  • Qualifying life events  
    • Adoption  
    • Birth of a Child 
    • Marriage  
    • Loss of health insurance coverage  
  • For a more exhaustive list check out the Qualifying Life Events section in the provided link. 

What is Get Covered Illinois?

Get Covered Illinois (GCI) is the official Affordable Care Act health insurance marketplace for Illinois residents. This marketplace allows Illinois residents the opportunity to shop for health insurance that best suits their needs.  

Plans under the ACA Health Insurance Marketplace cover a range of health services such as 

  • Outpatient services  
  • Emergency services 
  • Hospitalization  
  • Mental healt and substance abuse services  
  • Pediatric services  

For a more exhaustive list of covered health services, check out the GCI Essential Health Benefits page.  

Where should you go for insurance information if you're from Wisconsin, Iowa, North & South Dakota or another state?

Check out the website for information on how to get coverage, different plans and prices and for other insurance related resources.  

How to Read Your Insurance Card

Have you ever gone to a medical appointment and they ask for insurance information such as your group or ID number and you don’t know where to find it on your insurance card? Check out the following resources:

The most common information you’ll be asked for on your insurance card:

  • ID – your identification number  
  • Name – your name or the policyholder’s name  
  • Group – identifies your specific plan 

Health Insurance FAQ’s

Q: How long can you be on your parent’s insurance?
A: You can be on your parent’s insurance until you turn 26 years old. 

Q: How do you get health insurance?
A: If you have a benefit earning job you are most likely going to get your health insurance through your employer, however you can be covered under your parent’s plan until you are 26 or you get your own plan through one of MNsure’s offerings. 

Q: What visits are covered?
A: For information on what services are covered under your health insurance, call the customer service number listed on the back of your insurance card. 

Q: Can I be treated by WSU Health and Wellness Services if I don’t have insurance?  
A: Yes  

Q: How do I give Health and Wellness services my updated insurance information?
A: Contact the student health insurance coordinator Traci Kauphusman at 507.457.2224 or by email at 

Q: Can I get care from a provider that is not within my primary care? For example, a H&WS provider? 
A: Yes, if you obtain a referral from your primary care or insurance company, they can grant access for you to see a provider outside of your primary care and still be covered.  


Traci Kauphusman

Health Insurance Coordinator, Health & Wellness Services

Insurance Resources

WSU Health and Wellness Services Insurance Page

If you have any questions or would like more information, contact Traci Kauphusman the student health insurance coordinator via phone at 507.457.2224 or send her an email at 

WSU Health and Wellness Service Information for International Students   

If you have any questions or would like more information, call Pam Rasmussen at 507.457.2224  or send her an email at