Higher College Medical Premiums Are Coming

Brace yourselves, my fellow students. Coming within the next year or two, our student health insurance plans are going up.

Why? Well colleges say it’s because of new regulations.

Onerous New Requirements

The heart of the problem is this:

Our student health insurance policy premium has been substantially increased due to changes required by federal regulations issued on March 16, 2012 under the Affordable Care Act. As a result, all collegiate student health plans with an effective date of July 1, 2012 or after must provide a minimum benefit of at least $100,000 per policy year, have no limits on benefits deemed essential by the Act, and provide a preventative care benefit with no deductible, co-pays or co-insurance.

Basically this means that student health insurance plans offered by colleges have to offer $100,000 in medical benefits for the 2012-2013 academic year.

How big of an increase is this for colleges? As it turns out:

Some 60% of schools’ plans had coverage of $50,000 or less for specific conditions, and almost all of the rest had some sort of payout caps that they will have to do away with by 2014, the GAO study found.

At first this may sound good. Yay student health insurance plans cover more things! But at what cost?

Well if more things are forced to be covered under an insurance plan, then costs are added.

For instance, if an insurance company has to cover a routine checkup, that means they have to pay for most of, if not all of, the checkup.

The insurance company then passes off the costs by rising their premiums, reducing other benefits, reducing wages, and/or even laying off workers. The worst case scenario- the insurance company goes under.

Also, if premiums are increased, then naturally those who can’t afford it wait until they are sick to buy health insurance. If you are sick, then you require more treatment. Insurance companies have to cover that treatment, which also adds to their costs. The result is even higher premiums.

So given these new mandates, how are colleges passing off these new costs?

Higher Premiums

Well now student health care is more expensive. Here are some examples of schools who have had to raise their health care premiums:

  • The State University of New York in Plattsburgh raised their premium from$440 per student to between $1,300 and $1,600;
  • Lenoir-Rhyne University (Hickory, NC) raised theirs from $245 to $2,507;and
  • · The University of Puget Sound (Tacoma, WA) raised theirs from $165 to between $1,500 and $2,000.

Overall, these new mandates increase the costs of student health care plans by 1112%. (!!!)

Dropped Coverage

In some cases, colleges are dropping student health care plans altogether. For instance:

Lenoir-Rhyne University of Hickory, N.C., the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma, Wash., and Cornell College in Mount Vernon, Iowa—all private liberal-arts colleges—have told students they are dropping school-sponsored limited-benefit insurance plans starting in the fall. The three colleges said students’ premiums would have gone up roughly tenfold, and they said they could no longer justify making students sign up if they didn’t have their own insurance.

So colleges have to drop their student health care coverage because the costs are too much for them to bear.

It is true that only 7% of college students ages 18-23 have a student health care plan and that most already have coverage from their family.

But still, if you are among that 7%, then your health insurance plan is in danger of having higher costs or being dropped altogether.

What can we do?

Politically, we can lobby that the mandates that the colleges say are causing these increase in costs be repealed.

Otherwise, try to get health insurance elsewhere if you don’t already have it.

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Aaron Bandler

Aaron Bandler

Aaron Bandler is a sophomore at California Polytechnic State University San Luis Obispo pursuing a Journalism major and an Economics minor. Aaron's main passion is politics. As a staunch conservative Republican, he advocates for conservatism every day of his life. Aaron is also an avid sports fan who passionately follows the San Francisco Giants and 49ers. Outside of sports and politics, Aaron enjoys playing guitar and listening to classic rock music like The Who and Led Zeppelin as well as hanging out with family and friends.
Aaron Bandler

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