University Health Plans Face Post-Obamacare Competition

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The Trump administration recently introduced short-term health insurance plans into the health insurance market, which could potentially destabilize another part of Obamacare, also known as the Affordable Care Act. Short-term health insurance plans are usually cheaper and coverage ranges from up to a year and renewable for up to three years. These plans are mostly for people in-between jobs or other situations, while providing an opportunity to have some health insurance coverage.

Universities also offer health insurance plans, which could be more expensive than the short-term plan and this development has worried some professional associations in academia. However, professional associations in academia worry that the lack of coverage for prescription drugs and maternity care are a likely burden for graduate students, despite the opportunity for Americans to have short-term plans that were tough to come by under Obamacare. Inside Higher Education quoted the American Council in Education (ACE) and their concerns. Their chief government affairs officer, Steven Bloom, was afraid that students would switch from university plans to these cheaper short-term plans. He told Inside Higher Education that the shift could lead to higher prices for those remaining on the university plans, because it would cost more to insure the remaining few.

Bloom added that graduate students are often financially strapped and over 26 years old, which means they cannot remain on their parents’ health insurance plans and would have to pay for the university plans. Universities do subsidize their plans, but the subsidy could eventually be eliminated if the shift leads to an exodus of students and leads to a spike in the university plan’s premiums.

Brown essentially made the case for repealing Obamacare, which imposes mandates that only drive prices up, limits health insurance options and coverage, and leads to lower-quality care than people were used to pre-Obamacare. Although parts of Obamacare remain popular in polling, such as pre-existing conditions and keeping children under age 26 on parents’ plans, other parts were not. For example, the Trump administration zeroed out the unpopular individual mandate, which required individuals to have health insurance. Yet, academics continue to focus on the positives of Obamacare, while blaming health insurance price spikes and increases on Republicans without looking at the law itself, which keeps prices high.

Yet, Inside Higher Education cited a study by the Lookout Mountain Group–a group that claims it is nonpartisan yet is composed of college health professionals, students and health care reform experts—which concluded that Obamacare helped reduce the number of uninsured students from 19 percent in 2010 to about 9 percent in 2016. The group’s spokesman works at Montana State University, which calls into question the potential biases of the study’s authors and the group as a whole.