While campaigning, future President Barack Obama pledged to reform the health care system in the U.S. Landmark legislation was passed in March 2010 that would better serve Americans with too expensive or not enough coverage. But for college students, the benefits of the law have been extensive.
The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, which was signed into law on March 23, 2010, extends their parents coverage to individuals until they’re 26 years old. They now have the option to stay on their parents’ employer’s health care plan. But while this may be a welcome financial break for those in the age group, other demographics are picking up the bill.
“It’s always important to keep in mind when you extend benefits, someone else has to eat the cost,” said David Hyman, director of the Epstein Program in Health Law and Policy at the University of Illinois. “It ends up being reflected in the cost coverage written to those individuals, parents and employers.”
Many students across the country have access to what Hyman called “bare bones coverage” through their academic institution, but because of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, students now have the chance to access more care through their parents’ insurance.
“[The policies] are capped at $50,000 or $100,000, and if you have a catastrophic injury, you run through that money in a hurry,” Hyman said. “But bare bones policies are cheaper, and the universe of students, relatively speaking, is healthier than the general population. But the Affordable Care Act tries to leverage up the breadth and depth of the coverage. College students tend to be able to be covered on their parents’ policies as long as they’re full-time students. [But] most college students don’t age out of the policy.”
Aside from college students, the Affordable Care Act strives to benefit several other demographics. For example, individuals who have been denied coverage because of a pre-existing condition have the chance to enroll in the Pre-existing Insurance Coverage Plan. The plan will be in effect until 2014 when a new provision will come into effect, banning insurance companies from turning down coverage to those with pre-existing conditions.
Since the act was passed, several efforts by the Republican Party have attempted to repeal it. The day after the bill was passed by the House of Representatives, U.S. Reps. Michele Bachmann, of Minnesota’s 6th District, and Steve King, of Iowa’s 5th District, introduced a new bill aimed at repealing the Affordable Care Act in entirety. Jim DeMint, a senator from South Carolina, introduced a similar bill to the Senate the same day.
Because of the act’s potential to help people, it’s doubtful any efforts to repeal it will be successful, said Dr. James Galloway, regional health administrator for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
“We see so much positivity in what’s happened over time and the benefits to people that we don’t foresee that occurring, to be honest,” Galloway said. “We think the positive influence on the nation will convince people that it’s critically important that we not repeal this act.”