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Health Care Reform and Its Impact on College Students

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This past Sunday’s events in the House of Representatives is, undoubtably, one of the most controversial and historical events in U.S. law making. After the bill’s journey through many revisions and a Senate vote, the whole nation watched when the health care reform bill won by a 219-212 vote in the House, leaving its supporters celebrating and its critics uncertain about the future of America’s economy and its ever-increasing dependency on the government.

There are many, however, that have no idea what the bill says or how it will impact their future in healthcare.


How It Will Affect College Students Now

A portion of the health care reform bill targets college students for several reasons:

1. A sizable percentage of college students lack health coverage. In 2006, 20% of college-aged young adults were uninsured. (Government Accountability Office)

2. Over half of students ages 19-26 do not see health coverage as a necessity. (Urban Institute, 2008)

3. Students without health coverage often disregard the need to see specialists, get prescriptions, and go to regular check-ups, including care for mental health, which has become an epidemic on college campuses.

4. Uninsured students who are catastrophically injured or ill are often forced to abandon their academics for the sake of their exorbitant medical debt.

According to the GAO, 30 percent of colleges across the nation require full-time students to be covered by their parents’ policy or under the school’s insurance plan. 67 percent of college students are insured by employer-backed policies, most of whom are listed as dependents on their parents’ plan.

With employment rates at nearly 15 percent and the job market weak, under the new health care bill non-dependent children will be able to receive health coverage from their parents’ plan until the age of 26 to help college grads who can’t find post-graduate jobs and cannot afford expensive health care premiums.

Additionally, insurance companies will be barred from capping coverage and denying coverage from a pre-existing condition.

How Will It Affect College Students in 2014

Currently, whether or not a U.S. citizen has health coverage is a choice that citizen is free to make. Beginning January 1, 2014, under the health care reform bill, health coverage will be required Without health insurance, a person risks being fined $695 per year, up to a maximum of $2,085 per family, or 2.5% of a household income.

Medicare taxes will increase for those making more than $200,000 per year along with a rise in wage tax, 2.3% from the current 1.4%, and a rise in unearned income tax of 3.6%. While this may not affect college students necessarily while at college, it is something that college students making money or who intend to make money should be aware of.

The majority of the bill is apportioned to subsidizing premiums for families with incomes of up to $88,000.

The bill’s full impact cannot be determined until its full implementation in 2014.

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