A key aspect of President Obama’s Affordable Healthcare Act, the individual health insurance mandate, was approved by the Supreme Court in late June, with both widespread support and opposition.
The Affordable Healthcare Act, which was signed into law two years ago, has already implemented some of its features into the American healthcare system. A brief summary of the Act shows that for those who already have insurance, many changes appear beneficial. Patients with preexisting conditions cannot be discriminated against by healthcare providers, so thousands of asthmatic or diabetic patients will begin receiving care.
Insurance coverage will no longer have yearly or lifetime limits, meaning cancer patients will no longer have to worry about hitting their plan’s dollar limit and having to pay for treatments out of pocket. Required free access to preventive measures such as diabetes, cancer, and blood pressure screenings will also take effect. In a 2010 speech, Obama promised that taxes and insurance rates will be lowered and kept down “by creating a new insurance exchange: a marketplace where individuals and small businesses will be able to shop for health insurance at competitive prices.” Obama also stated that implementation of the law would be paid for not by tax dollars, but rather by finding savings within the present health care system.
For Americans without health insurance, options will be varied and personalized to an individual’s financial situation. The new marketplace structure will allow for customers to find an affordable healthcare plan among competitive rates. Tax credits will also be provided to middle class families to aid them in finding insurance plans.
But what does all of this mean for college students?
The Wall Street Journal reported that the cost of university healthcare plans for students could rise exponentially with last month’s Supreme Court ruling, as most offer limited benefit packages, and coverage caps will become illegal in 2014, therefore raising university premiums. The current UW Tacoma insurance plan has a $100,000 annual limit with an individual deductible of $125 per quarter and a yearly coinsurance maximum of $2,500.
The law raised the age in which students can remain on their parents’ health insurance from 24 to 26, meaning that the more than 2/3 of students benefiting from this change can be covered through all or most of graduate school. However, many campus healthcare centers do not take outside health insurance, so students should be aware of that when seeking treatment. Also, single men and women with an income of less than $15,000 may be eligible for Medicaid, and those making $43,000 or below may qualify for tax credits upon purchasing healthcare.
Many details of the insurance act dubbed “ObamaCare” are being widely critiqued and debated. However, the individual health insurance mandate seems to be gathering the most attention. Beginning in 2014, those without health insurance will be required to pay 1% of their income to the IRS as part of their annual taxes. About 30% of 19-25 year olds in America are currently uninsured, but the new mandate is not necessarily a requirement to purchase healthcare: it’s the decision to either find an affordable insurance package or pay slightly higher taxes each year.