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The Affordable Care Act Passed: What it Means for Student Coverage

Aug 22, 2012 Jennifer Williamson, Distance Columnist | 0 Comments

In June 2012, the Supreme Court upheld President Obama’s Affordable Care Act with only minor changes. This new legislation has significant impact for millions of Americans—particularly the uninsured. It will also influence insurance coverage for college students throughout the country. Here’s how.

Your college health plan probably won’t change

If you’re on the online college health plan or you’re covered under your parents’ insurance, you may not see any significant changes. Many colleges already offer comprehensive medical insurance to students that complies with the government’s new expectations regarding required coverage. In most cases, if you’re already covered and your college plan is already comprehensive enough, you won’t see much in terms of major changes.

Your college is likely to require you to have insurance

Woman Getting A Check-up

Getting health insurance coverage isn’t easy or affordable—even for young and healthy college students.




That being said, if you don’t have insurance, your college is more likely to insist that you get it. Some colleges already do this, but now their insistence will be backed up by federal law. If you don’t have insurance through your parents and don’t want to buy the college’s insurance plan, you should be able to purchase insurance through a statewide insurance exchange that makes it easier for you to compare prices and plans.

See Also: Online Degree in Medical Degrees and Heathcare Degree Programs

Fewer catastrophic coverage plans

The new health care laws require health insurance companies to comply with a certain minimal level of coverage. That could mean that colleges will be able to offer fewer cheap plans that cover only catastrophic injury. This means your coverage will be more comprehensive, but you may have fewer options for bare-bones, emergency-only health insurance.

Health administration fees probably won’t go away

The law allows colleges to keep charging administrative fees to fund college health programs and counseling services, even though insurance will pay for certain services such as birth control and vaccines.

No limits for pre-existing periods or plan maximums

Anyone younger than age 19 can’t have limits on coverage for pre-existing conditions—this extends to people of any age in 2014. As for plan maximums, there will be no annual limits for spending allowed starting in 2014; up until then, plan maximums must be no less than $100,000 per year in 2012-13 and $500,000 per year in 2013-14. There cannot be any annual or lifetime limits on hospitalization, mental health and substance abuse counseling, prescription drugs, and diagnostic tests covered.

No co-payments for preventive services

Basic checkups will be offered with no co-payment under new plans.

Continued coverage under your parents’ plans

This new policy is already in effect—allowing students to continue under their parents’ plans until the age of 26. While this will probably be more important to you once you graduate college, it can also give you more choice while you’re in school.

Previously, students enrolled full-time in college were allowed to continue under their parents’ plans until graduation. Part-time students, however, couldn’t keep their parents’ plans past a certain age—frequently around 21, although this varied depending on state law. Now, students enrolled part-time can keep their parents’ plans as well up until the age of 26. This gives students more choice, although some students and parents find that college plans are less expensive than employer coverage.

Getting health insurance coverage isn’t easy or affordable—even for young and healthy college students. However, the Affordable Care Act has multiple provisions designed to help students get coverage—and expand the quality of coverage provided to students. Hopefully, the Affordable Care Act will improve student coverage while lowering costs and improving services—making health care more accessible to everyone on campus.


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