Care Act may be redundant for students
Published: Tuesday, September 4, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, September 4, 2012 00:09
As students scrambled to pick up textbooks, adjust to 8 a.m. classes and began long stints at King Library the past two weeks, reviewing their health insurance plan fell to the bottom of the to-do list.
Miami University requires all students to carry some form of major medical insurance and each school year, students must either prove they are insured or purchase Miami’s offered health insurance.
However, with the recent United States Supreme Court ruling to keep the key provisions of the Affordable Care Act in place, including an individual mandate, Miami’s requirements may now be in line with government policy, rendering Miami’s requirements unnecessary.
Gail Walenga, the assistant vice president of Student Health Services, has received a lot of questions about how the ruling, which calls for all individuals to carry insurance, will affect Miami.
“We have to wait to see what happens in the November election,” Walenga said.
As the Affordable Care Act continues to be a point of fierce debate in the ongoing campaign, Miami’s College Republicans and College Democrats have taken sides on how the act affects students.
Baylor Myers, chairman of College Republicans, said students might not see the effects of the Affordable Care Act.
“College students are lucky because they’re shielded from the burdens that this bill bares,” Myers said. “Because their parents are paying bills or they’re on student loans, students are not seeing the direct evidence. I firmly believe that once students graduate, their eyebrows will be widely raised when they see the harms of this bill.”
Laura Kretz, president of College Democrats, said the act is a step in the right direction since it allows students to stay on their parents health insurance plan until they’re 26.
“It makes sense and it’s a huge relief,” she said.
According to Kretz, the act will help students after graduation as they can rely on their parents’ health insurance plan while pursuing jobs or internships.
Although the views are split, the act does not require immediate adjustments for current college students. Miami will continue business as usual until the act is overturned or goes into effect in 2014.
As of now, Walenga’s office sends emails to all full time Oxford students beginning in July asking students to complete an electronic waiver that exempts them from the university-offered plan. Students are allowed to complete the waiver only if they can prove they are already covered by a health insurance policy.
If students do not complete the waiver, they are automatically billed for the cost of insurance, which is $862, Walenga said. She said the primary reason they insist on some form of insurance is because of situations where students become ill or injured and need healthcare, but don’t have enough money to cover the costs.
Sophomore Jessica Hoover completed the waiver, forgoing Miami’s insurance before starting classes.
“The healthcare act didn’t really affect me, it was a very simple decision,” Hoover said.
About eight to ten percent of students use Miami’s health insurance, a number that stays consistent each year, according to Walenga.
“This is because there are no extra charges to keep [students] on their plan and employee benefits tend to be better than a student plan,” Walenga said.
According to Walenga, most private and public colleges and universities in Ohio, including Ohio State University, Ohio University, and University of Toledo require health insurance and many students opt to stay on their parents’ plan, which current state health reform allows until age 28 if both the parents are Ohio residents.
“It’s pretty common to require it because if they have health bills, it limits the students abilities to buy books and pay for classes,” Walenga said.
With the impending election, Walenga said the current process will continue until a change is necessary.
“If the act stays in effect, it would be redundant to do what we do,” she said.
Despite ongoing discussion surrounding health insurance, the goal of ensuring coverage for all Miami students remains.
“We want to minimize that risk for students to choose between paying medical bills or tuition,” Walenga said.
College Democrats will hold an information session with a guest speaker Tuesday, Sept. 4 who will talk about the Affordable Care Act. The event will be held 7 p.m. in 109 Harrison Hall.