Obamacare and College Students
President Obama’s Affordable Care Act (ACA) has been received by Americans with mixed reviews. Recently, colleges across the country have spoken out against the act, particularly in terms of student health plans and faculty insurance requirements.
The ACA, commonly referred to as “Obamacare,” does carry benefits for young adults. Most notably, people in this age demographic will be covered under their parents’ insurance until the age of 26.
However, college students relying on insurance provided through their schools may see different effects. Some colleges, particularly private liberal arts colleges, are considering eliminating student health plans due to the increased costs under the ACA. According to the Wall Street Journal, the costs of these plans could increase by as much as 1,112 percent.
According to “Forbes,” covering college students’ health care is a fairly easy task, considering these students are generally at the peak of health. Therefore, students are typically offered “limited benefit” plans with a set cap, usually around $10,000. Due to these caps, plans are inexpensive and affordable on nearly every budget.
Caps this low can be problematic due to hospital fees; if a student had to be admitted to a hospital, a cap of $10,000 would not cover the cost of care. The ACA, however, prohibits such caps. According to “Forbes,” from 2013 to 2014, caps cannot be set below $500,000. After 2014 they will be eliminated entirely.
Therefore, students could likely see a drastic raise in premiums. Many colleges have already been forced to raise premiums this school year in order to meet 2013 requirements. Plans that formerly cost students a few hundred dollars are now costing a few thousand.
Some colleges are forced to cut adjunct faculty hours in order to avoid paying for their healthcare insurance. According to The Huffington Post, the ACA considers an employee “full-time” if they work 30 hours or more per week. Employer-assisted health insurance must be provided to these full-time individuals.
Temporary, part-time employees may only work up to 25 hours a week and do not have to be covered by their employers. Adjunct faculty may only teach up to 10 credits per semester in order to receive this “part-time” status. Community colleges that typically employ more adjunct instructors than other colleges and universities are feeling the effects of this law.
Community College of Allegheny County (CCAC) in Pittsburgh announced in November that some professors’ hours would be cut. David Hoovler, the executive assistant to the CCAC president, told The Huffington Post: “While it is of course the college’s preference to provide coverage to these positions, there simply are not funds available to do so.”