Health care legislation passes

Vice President Joe Biden has described it as ‘a big …. deal’ but many students are wondering exactly how the recent reforms to the health care system will benefit them, if at all.

One of the biggest benefits will go into effect later this year allowing students to remain on their parents’ health insurance plan until age 26, as long as they continue to be a dependent. Students, however, will still have to consider the benefits of becoming independent which removes their parents income from consideration in awarding financial aid and allows them to receive tax benefits such as the recent ‘stimulus checks.’

By 2014, students will be able to stay on their parents health insurance even if they are offered alternative coverage through their own employers. ‘This will help cover the one in three young adults

who are uninsured,’ said a White House press document provided to The Northerner by Shin Inouye, director of Specialty Media for the White House.

Health care reform ‘ensures young adults always have quality, affordable health insurance choices, regardless of how their lives change, particularly as young adults frequently change jobs, move, or hold part-time or temporary jobs,’ according to the White House.
This year, the new law prohibits insurance companies from denying individuals under 19 years old coverage based on pre-existing conditions. Going forward, the law will also prohibit insurance companies from denying coverage to all individuals, according to the White House. Also, this year, the new law will eliminate all lifetime limits on how much insurance companies cover if beneficiaries get sick and bans insurance companies from dropping people from coverage when they get sick.

Also this year the reform act requires new insurance plans to cover prevention and wellness benefits at no charge by exempting these benefits from deductibles and other cost-sharing requirements, which may allow some students coverage for fitness activities.
The law is also supposed to make health insurance more affordable for college students and young adults, according to the White House, because the new law supports states starting in plan year 2011 in requiring health insurance companies to submit justification for requested premium increases. It also ‘cracks down on excessive insurance overhead starting in 2011 by applying standards to how much insurance companies can spend on non-medical costs, such as bureaucracy, executive salaries, and marketing, and provides consumers a rebate if non-medical costs are too high.’

But, not everyone is pleased with the changes or thinks they will benefit college students in the long run, including Kentucky’s two Republican U.S. Senators.

‘The debt that will be created by the President’s health care plan will be on the backs of today’s college students and their children for decades to come.’ I agree in the principle of health care reform but the path that this President and this Congress’ has taken will no doubt lead to higher taxes, job cuts, and cause ill effects to our nation’s health care system.’ said U.S. Senator Jim Bunning (R-Ky.)

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) was unavailable for comment, but his office pointed out a recent study by The Associated Press.

The study pointed out that under the health care overhaul, young adults who buy their own insurance will carry a heavier burden of the medical costs of older Americans – a shift expected to raise insurance premiums for young people when the plan takes full effect in 2014.

Beginning in 2014, most Americans will be required to buy insurance or pay a tax penalty. That is when premiums for young adults seeking coverage on the individual market would likely climb by 17 percent on average, or roughly $42 a month, according to an analysis of the plan conducted for The Associated Press. The analysis did not factor in tax credits to help offset the increase.

On April 7,’ U.S Republican Congressman Geoff Davis (R.-Ky.) will address students about the health care reform bill at 2pm in the Otto Budig Theater. There will be a question and answer session to allow any students or staff the opportunity to ask the Congressman questions about issues arising in our country. This event is open to all faculty and students at no cost, but is closed to the public.

The Associated Press contributed to this article.

Story by Jesse Call