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Under Affordable Care Act, Idaho State University’s student health insurance benefits and cost increase while enrollment decreases

Posted November 7, 2013

Student health insurance enrollment has dropped at Idaho State University as the price has increased to adhere to standards set by the Affordable Care Act. New benefits covered by the insurance and the higher annual maximum spending cap account for the increase in price. The student health insurance currently meets all of the Affordable Care Act requirements.

Compared to two years ago, annual insurance premiums for students have increased significantly. For the 2011-2012 academic year, the annual premium was $1,270. Insurance for the 2013-2014 year costs students $2,028.

If students are under age 26, they can remain on their parents’ health insurance plans. This newly extended eligibility is likely one of the reasons student enrollment in ISU’s health insurance program has decreased rapidly in the past two years, according to Crystal Ross, business operations manager of ISU’s Student Health Center.

Prescriptions were not covered under student health insurance before the Affordable Care Act was implemented but are now covered by ISU’s insurance. So are preventative and wellness services such as physicals, which had limited coverage before, and birth control. These are covered under “Essential Health Benefits,” described in the Affordable Care Act.

Core services described include: ambulatory patient services, emergency services, hospitalization, maternity and newborn care, mental health services, rehabilitative services, laboratory services, preventative and wellness services, chronic disease management and pediatric services, according to the Affordable Care Act Summary written by Ascension, ISU’s health insurance provider.

One change for the 2014 year is that insurers can no longer limit “lifetime” or “per condition” benefits.
Student health insurance plans are considered “individual” plans under the ACA. Student health insurance coverage is sufficient to qualify for the individual insurance mandate, meaning students insured through student health insurance will not be subject to a tax penalty.

Students are not required to purchase ISU’s health insurance; they can still purchase insurance through the state exchange. Student health insurance may likely be the more affordable option for students, though. Also, a student’s health plan must have equal or greater coverage than ISU’s student health insurance in order to be eligible for a waiver from student health insurance coverage.
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