How Obamacare Affects Students
By Tiffany Wallace
Barack Obama’s health insurance reform plan, often referred to as Obamacare, offers many sweeping reforms to the health care industry. Although college students often don’t think about health care, they should pay attention to Obamacare, as many of the changes affect them both positively and negatively.
Health Care for Dependent Students
As college students get older, insurance becomes more of a concern because they get too old to remain on their parents’ health insurance plans and have to find their own coverage. This can be difficult if a student is still in school full time and not making his own money. While the law currently allows students to remain on their parents’ insurance until they reach the age of 23, Obamacare extends this maximum age to 26. This ensures that the majority of first-time college students will be covered by their parents’ insurance until they graduate college.
Full-time students should be relieved by this change because it means they won’t have to struggle to find affordable insurance while in school or rely on the student health center for their medical care; they can use their parents’ insurance to help cover their medical needs while in school even if they are over the age of 23. Recently graduated students–many of whom are between the ages of 24 and 26–also benefit from this change because they don’t have to worry about paying for private insurance if they have a hard time getting a job. This allows them to focus completely on job-hunting rather than diffusing their efforts so that they can get insurance as well; this extra focus may make it more likely for ex-students to get jobs.
Student Health Plans
While Obamacare offers benefits to students whose parents have health insurance, children of uninsured parents don’t benefit from this change. In 2014, health insurance coverage becomes mandatory; everyone, including students, will have to carry it or pay a fine. Thus, the problems children of uninsured parents face may be short-lived, as their parents will be required to purchase some kind of insurance. However, parents without financial means may purchase a minimum policy for themselves that doesn’t cover their children, so these students may still face problems related to not having insurance.
The problem is that colleges might not be able to offer student health plans at low rates under Obamacare because reforms raise the costs to health insurance companies. Insurers have to insure more people, including those with expensive pre-existing insurance, and this will drive costs up. As a result, many colleges and universities may raise the price of their student health plans or stop offering them. This may leave children of uninsured parents in a bind; they’ll have to get private insurance, which is much more expensive. In addition, it’s not clear whether student health plans meet the new requirements for minimum coverage under Obamacare because they are considered temporary plans rather than permanent health insurance. As a result, students may have to purchase private insurance in addition to purchasing coverage through their schools.
Students who are currently on their parents’ health insurance gain tremendous benefits from Obamacare, while those who aren’t already insured may have significant problems once Obamacare goes into effect. Either way, students should pay close attention to Obamacare because it significantly affects them even though they may not have given much thought to health insurance.