WASHINGTON, D.C. – A growing number of American universities are dropping health insurance for students and pushing them to secure coverage through state health insurance exchanges created with Obamacare.
The Associated Press reports four of New Jersey’s 11 public colleges dropped health insurance for students this year. The schools, all four-year institutions, include Richard Stockton College, William Paterson University, Ramapo College and New Jersey City University.
Half of Washington State’s four-year colleges – University of Washington, Washington State University, and The Evergreen State College – also quit covering students, forcing them onto the state health insurance exchange.
Local News 8 reports Idaho State University will stop its coverage for students on August 15, 2015, joining three other Idaho colleges to do the same.
ISU Director of Marketing and Communications Adrienne King said declining participation rates had increased premiums to $3,000 per student. Last week the university notified the 1,481 students currently receiving coverage that it will end effective August 15.
“King said single students who are under age 26 can remain enrolled under their parents’ health insurance policy as part of the Affordable Health Care Act,” Local News 8 reports. “The ISU Health Center is helping those who do not qualify for this coverage and linking them up with the Idaho Health Exchange or other private providers.”
According to the AP:
The main driver of colleges getting out of the insurance business is a provision in the Affordable Care Act that prevents students from using premium tax subsidies to purchase insurance from their college or university, according to Steven M. Bloom, director of federal relations for the American Council on Education, a Washington, D.C., group representing the presidents of U.S. colleges and universities.
Add to that the provision that allows young people to stay on their parent’s health insurance plans until age 26, plus the expansion of Medicaid in some states and the rising cost of student insurance. The result is cheaper health insurance available for students off campus.
Those working to help students secure insurance coverage have differing opinions on what the changes mean.
Stephen Bolyai, William Paterson University’s vice president for administration and finance, told the news service his research during the school’s transition away from offering health insurance convinced him students will be better off buying insurance from the exchange.
“I actually went into the exchange myself and did a bunch of ‘what ifs’ to see if this was actually a better deal for them,” he told the AP. “I many cases it is.”
But the student health insurance manager at the University of Wisconsin-Madison disagrees.
Richard Simpson said UW-Madison’s student health plans are a better overall deal because they “provide ‘gold’ or ‘platinum’ level coverage at a ‘bronze’ price,” according to the AP.
Meanwhile, students in states that did expand Medicaid are finding they don’t earn enough on their part-time salary to pay for health insurance, but too much to qualify for Medicaid, the news service reports.
“I cannot afford it, so it is definitely not by choice,” Ball State University student Levi Huddleson said about going without health insurance since 2012. “I considered buying it, but just taking the hit and paying the penalty was significantly cheaper than either option. Luckily, I’m young, and I don’t have any serious pre-existing conditions.”