Reform makes little impact on university-sponsored health care

April 9, 2010 by Shannon Ostrowsky NMSU Round Up

As some democratic leaders celebrate the approval of the biggest health care reform in American history, the question of how it will affect college students still comes to mind.

The $940 billion bill, passed on March 21, will expand health care coverage to 32 million uninsured Americans, and those who do not purchase health insurance in 2014 will face a $695 annual fine.

The bill won’t take full effect until 2014, so it is too early to tell how it will impact college students, New Mexico State University health officials said.

The American College Health Association released an update on the actions they will take with the new health reform in place.

The update states the ACHA and other partner associations are actively monitoring, analyzing and advocating on behalf of the collective interests of students and college health.

Efforts will be made to preserve the ability for colleges and universities to continue to provide students access to quality, university-sponsored health plans, according to the update.

Students who attend universities with health centers will always have that option for their health care, and NMSU has fairly broad services available to students, said Dr. Benjamin Diven, NMSU medical director.

Students also can access health insurance by remaining on their parents’ health plan, a provision the new health care law addresses.

According to the Patient Protection and Affordable Healthcare Act, dependent children must be allowed to remain on their parents’ health care plan until the age of 26, effective September 2010.

For students who are not working or covered by their parents, the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act also is available, according to the U.S. Department of Labor Web site.

COBRA, an option for those who have been laid-off, requires companies with 20 or more employees to pay for an extension on health insurance coverage for at least 18 months.

According to the Web site, qualified individuals, however, may be required to pay the entire premium for coverage up to 102 percent of the cost to the plan, which can be costly.

Not only does the passed bill affect health care coverage, but also it addresses education and financial aid.

“With this bill and other steps we pursued over the last year, we are finally taking meaningful reform in our higher education system,” President Barack Obama said in a news report.

One of these steps, according to the report, eliminates banks as the middleman when receiving student loans, which under the new law, will come from the U.S. Department of Education. The changes to the college loan program aim to help students and parents afford higher education.

The changes will not be enforced for another few years.

Brian Neff, NMSU sophomore, said he does not believe the bill will affect current NMSU students, but is “pretty irate” the House passed the bill.

“Our demographic is, on average, pretty healthy, but I think it will come back to bite us when our taxes go up later to account for more deficit spending,” Neff said.

Shannon Ostrowsky is a staff writer and can be contacted at

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