Student health insurance hinges upon Obamacare's fate

When a student is stressing about heading off to college, purchasing health insurance is unlikely to be a high priority. However, many colleges and universities require students to be insured before enrolling, which makes shopping for health coverage a critical affair for the majority of those attending college.

Nowadays, most colleges offer their own self-constructed student health plan as a (usually) low-cost option for prospective and enrolled students. These plans, although independent of individual market and employer-based pools, still generally qualify a college student to be considered “covered” by standards illustrated by the Affordable Care Act (also known as Obamacare). Despite being impacted differently by Affordable Care Act regulations versus traditional coverage plans, student health plans are still required to meet the core coverage standards of the law, leading many colleges to transform their respective offered plans over the last several years.

We now live in an age where the Affordable Care Act is at constant risk of termination and replacement by the current Congress, leaving students nationwide questioning what is to come. Those who chose coverage through student health plans wonder what the potential effects will be on their own health insurance should the Affordable Care Act repeal become reality.

To answer this question, it may be best to consider what student health plans looked like pre-ACA, and how the reshaping of plans brought us to their current state.

Before Obamacare, university health plans gained much of their popularity through the fact that on-campus health centers would be more easily accessible by students who were covered under such plans. University plans were also generally tagged with cheap premiums because of their autonomy from individual market and employer-based insurance pools. Nonetheless, student health plans received widespread criticism for their bare-bones style of coverage, which often led to immense out-of-pocket costs for students who actually did experience serious illness or injury during their college years.

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