Giving Students the Protections They Need
By Richard Sorian, Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs
Between class schedules and extracurricular activities, students have a lot going on. The last thing they need added to an already full plate is having to navigate a tricky health insurance market.
With this in mind, a new proposed regulation announced today would be designed to ensure students who buy insurance through their college or university would be given many of the same rights and protections as other Americans under the Affordable Care Act, including the Patient’s Bill of Rights. For example, under the Affordable Care Act, insurers could no longer impose lifetime dollar limits on the amount they spend on health benefits; drop coverage when enrollees get sick because of an unintentional mistake on an application; and generally cannot deny or exclude coverage for students under age 19 who have preexisting conditions.
The proposed rules would require insurance companies to tell students enrolled in student health plans whether or not their plan meets the new requirements laid out under the Affordable Care Act—bringing unprecedented transparency to the student health insurance market.
Today, some student health plans only offer limited benefits with low annual dollar limits on health care, or have limited networks of doctors and other health care providers. For many students, these health plans are their only health insurance option. The Affordable Care Act allows HHS to take steps to help preserve market stability and help ensure student health plans remain available until all Americans have new coverage options through the State-based Exchanges that will be established in 2014. Under the proposed rule announced today, student health insurance plans would be allowed to have annual dollar limits on essential health benefits of no less than $100,000 for policy years beginning on or after January 1, 2012, but before September 23, 2012. Student health plans with policy years beginning on or after September 23, 2012 must fully comply with the Affordable Care Act’s annual limit restrictions.
Some other ways the Affordable Care Act is helping college students get the care they need include:
- Many students can stay on a parent’s family health plan until they turn 26.
- Health plans cannot limit or deny benefits or deny coverage for a child younger than age 19 simply because the child has a “pre-existing condition.”
So while students are running from class to class and preparing for the next big exam, these proposed rules could give them the freedom from worrying about losing their health insurance or having it capped unexpectedly if they are in an accident or become sick. It will put students, not insurance companies, more in control of their health care.
Read more about this proposed regulation here.