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Fewer colleges offer their students health insurance

Health Care and Health Insurance
by Sergei Mordovin
Health insurance costs still a source of concern
Health insurance costs still a source of concern

For many years, students who arrived at college without some sort of health insurance plans of their own could often count on their schools to provide at least some basic coverage. But as time goes on under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, it seems that more institutions of higher learning are ditching those offerings.

While this, in hindsight, may have been an easily foreseeable consequence of the health care law - specifically the part that ensures young adults are covered by their parents' plans until they're 26 - there is still some debate about whether these decisions being made by college leaders are going to be harmful to many members of their student bodies, according to a report from the Associated Press. But universities generally point out that there is no subsidy available for those purchasing their coverage through a college, as there is for plans bought through the state or federal exchanges.

That means that students will often have to carry the full freight themselves, the report said. And consequently, some experts believe that they might therefore just be better off hitting those marketplaces when they need coverage, or relying on Medicaid in the states that expanded the reach of that program.

Plenty to think about
In the mean time, while some colleges have already dropped these offerings, others are at least considering it, the report said. Many remain on the fence, though, because of that potential impact on general student well being, especially if they don't believe their students would have access to affordable plans without them. Universities in the states that didn't expand Medicaid, for example, could keep their plans out of fear that young adults would go without coverage.

At the same time, those that drop their offerings say that they've done the research and found that using the exchanges will typically be of financial benefit to students who need the coverage, the report said. Between the coverage being relatively low-cost to begin with, and the value of subsidies being so potentially significant, steering young adults toward such an option could be advisable for all involved.

Because of this potentially uncertain near future, health insurance companies themselves might want to do a little bit more to help connect young adults in particular with coverage that best fits their personal needs going forward as they complete their degrees.



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