Experts say new health insurance rules could cost graduate students

The Trump administration says its new rules allowing short-term health plans will provide more choice and affordability, but higher education experts fear they will destabilize the student insurance pool, Inside Higher Ed reports.

Fewer plan participants, higher price per student

Experts worry that the less expensive base rates for new short-term insurance plans will prompt younger, healthier people to leave plans that meet Affordable Care Act (ACA) standards. Increased use of the short-term plans—which do not have to comply with ACA rules mandating coverage of maternity care and prescriptions and prohibiting lifetime coverage caps—is expected to drive up costs for ACA-approved college plans.

These increases could have a particular impact on graduate students, who would face higher premiums with fewer options. Many graduate students are older than 26, which is the upper limit of eligibility for joining a parent’s health care plan. In addition, universities would also face higher costs if fewer students use their plans, which could lead to the elimination of health care subsidies graduate students depend on to afford the plans in the first place.

ACA has expanded graduate student coverage

Inside Higher Ed reports that 47 percent of graduate students use a university health care plan. And according to a report by Lookout Mountain Group, a group of university health officials that studies health care reforms, the ACA reduced the percentage of uninsured students from 19 percent in 2010 to nine percent in 2016.

The Heritage Foundation asserts that the rule change will “lower cost and expand coverage choices for millions of individuals and families.” But the ACHA counters that the short-term plans offer “the illusion of choice,” providing less coverage and imposing high deductibles.

ACHA plans to publish a guide to health insurance literacy for college students and institutions.

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