Thursday, August 26, 2010

ObamaCare's war on students

Now we find out, as the WSJ writes, that ObamaCare may mean that universities can no longer offer the low-cost student health insurance that so many of them do. Like many college students, I went through college and grad school using student health insurance offered by my universities. The price was low and it covered the basic care that students encounter. It was just fine for standard student health needs even if it didn't cover much when we had a baby while in graduate school. I was told that the plan was budgeted for the cost of abortions, not pregnancies, since that is what they thought most students would need. Fine. We coped.

But now ObamaCare doesn't approve of such minimum care plans and would require colleges and universities to have a much more expensive coverage.
Between 4.5 million to 5.5 million students annually are insured by short-term plans sponsored by their schools, which are tailored to upperclassman who have aged out of their parents' coverage or to international and graduate students. These plans are very low cost because the benefits are designed for generally healthy young people and often organized around campus health services and academic medical centers.

All of which means these plans aren't likely to qualify under ObamaCare's "minimal essential coverage" rules that mandate rich benefit packages, even if colleges have the flexibility to make exceptions for special needs. And given that insurance must now be sold anytime to everyone, colleges may be required to continue to cover students after they've graduated—leaving this type of coverage unaffordable.

It doesn't help that the regulations governing student health plans are as carelessly written as the rest of the bill, and the uncertainty is holding up insurance contracts and plan design for the coming academic year.
The universities are asking for an exemption.
All of this is no accident. The liberals who wrote the bill despise these campus health plans because they think every plan in the country should be designed in Washington and have been calling for a regulatory crackdown for years. Other Democrats probably had no clue about these rules, even as they voted for a bill that was so large and convoluted that no one could truly understand it. Either way, count this as another of ObamaCare's really futile and stupid gestures, with many more to come.
Of course, when the main author of the bill, Max Baucus, dismisses criticisms that he should have read the bill of which he was one of the chief backers. Perhaps he can explain whether or not the Democrats meant to deprive students of their inexpensive coverage.