Healthcare Law Mandates Major Changes to College Student Plans

Tim Goral's picture

Freshman orientations are underway at colleges across the country. Students are learning about meal plans, university housing, and course requirements for their majors. Many students will also learn about newly revamped student health insurance options.

More than 1 million students are enrolled in student health insurance plans offered by their college or university, according to the American Council on Education, a higher education organization. But student health plans offered through schools were not subject the same standards as individual plans or those offered through employers, noted Aaron Smith, executive director of the advocacy group Young Invincibles, in a June statement.

"For years, the student health insurance market has been largely unregulated, and as a result, provided inconsistent value to students who actually do get sick," Smith said.

The Affordable Care Act, which the Supreme Court upheld on June 28, now requires most student insurance plans to add prescription benefits, increase maximum coverage levels, and offer free preventative care.

"All of the same standards that will apply to the rest of the health insurance plans will apply to the college health plan," says Tobin Van Ostern, policy manager for the progressive advocacy group Campus Progress.

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