LETTER: Affordable Care Act offers college students health insurance option
Recently, Michigan State University announced that if students do not have health insurance coverage on their own, they will be required to enroll in a MSU plan at a cost of nearly $1,500 for the year. The university was acting in response to the fact that a high number of students at MSU have historically not had coverage, and they want to protect students who might get sick and have to choose between paying medical bills or college.
But what was missing in the news coverage is that college students, as well as all young adults between 18 to 26, have another option thanks to the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Under this new federal law, young adults can now stay on their parents’ health insurance plan until their 27th birthday. The young adult son or daughter can be married or file their taxes as an independent and still qualify. They don’t have to live with their parents or even live in the same state as their parents and still qualify.
There are currently about 207,000 uninsured young adults between 19 and 26 in Michigan. Since this new provision took effect in 2010, approximately 32,800 young adults have signed back on their parents' family policy, and nationwide, more than 2.5 million more young adults now have coverage through their parents' plan, thanks to the Affordable Care Act.
We know that many students who do not have insurance do not seek medical treatment when they are sick. We also know that when a person is sick, they do not perform as well in school or at work as when they are healthy.
MSU is right that students need health insurance. But students, thanks to the Affordable Care Act, can avoid the MSU plan and save $1,500 by simply signing up on their parents’ policy. And for those parents that may not currently have insurance, beginning January 2014, they will be able to buy affordable quality health care from the health insurance exchange that will be up and running. Then students can join their parents' policy. For more information, visit www.healthcare.gov.
John Freeman, a former State Representative, is the State Director of Know Your Care, an organization dedicated to educating the public about the benefits available under the Affordable Care Act.