NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Why Colleges Want A Waiver From ObamaCare

August 26, 2010

While writing the many arcane rules of 2,700-plus pages of ObamaCare, Democrats seem to have been inspired to target student health insurance at colleges and universities, says the Wall Street Journal. 

The word is that the bill "could make it impossible for colleges and universities to continue to offer student health plans."  That's how the American Council on Education and a dozen other higher-ed lobbies put it in a recent letter to the Obama Administration, warning that the insurance coverage they offer may get junked by ObamaCare's decrees. 

  • Between 4.5 million to 5.5 million students annually are insured by short-term plans sponsored by their schools, which are tailored to upperclassman who have aged out of their parents' coverage or to international and graduate students.
  • These plans are very low cost because the benefits are designed for generally healthy young people and often organized around campus health services and academic medical centers. 

All of which means these plans aren't likely to qualify under ObamaCare's "minimal essential coverage" rules that mandate rich benefit packages, even if colleges have the flexibility to make exceptions for special needs.  And given that insurance must now be sold anytime to everyone, colleges may be required to continue to cover students after they've graduated -- leaving this type of coverage unaffordable, according to the Journal. 

It doesn't help that the regulations governing student health plans are as carelessly written as the rest of the bill, and the uncertainty is holding up insurance contracts and plan design for the coming academic year.  Not surprisingly, the colleges are asking federal regulators for a blanket ObamaCare waiver, says the Journal. 

All of this is no accident.  The liberals who wrote the bill despise these campus health plans because they think every plan in the country should be designed in Washington and have been calling for a regulatory crackdown for years.  Other Democrats probably had no clue about these rules, even as they voted for a bill that was so large and convoluted that no one could truly understand it, says the Journal. 

Source: Editorial, "Big Foot on Campus; Why colleges want a waiver from ObamaCare," Wall Street Journal, August 26, 2010. 

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