Should College Students Be Forced To Have Health Insurance?

I wasn’t aware of this, but apparently more and more colleges are requiring that students have health insurance.

One of our local papers reported that Michigan State is the latest school to put this type of program in place, and say that it’s currently in place or rolling out at 25% of colleges across the country, a number that is growing.

The cost ($1,500 per year) is nothing to sneeze at, but when it comes to health insurance, is actually pretty cheap, though I’m guessing it’s a pretty bare bones plan, and that since most college kids stay reasonably healthy, is a pretty low cost plan to the provider as well.

Still, it raises a few questions:

  • What if you forget to provide proof?  Could you get billed for coverage you already have? If so, will some simply overlook this or have an administrative battle on their hands to back out of it?
  • Is this any of the schools business?  The article I posted the link to never really indicated the rationale behind this, except to say that colleges want to ensure that students don’t have to choose between education and paying for a health care bill.  I can see this but it seems a little flimsy.
  • Is this tied into Obamacare somehow?  I thought this bill required that everybody have health insurance by a certain date.  Is this a way to get in front of this for the student population?

Back in my college days, I was covered under my parents insurance plan, so this wouldn’t have applied to me.  But, I expect more and more students are uninsured, and I wonder how this affects them.

If you were attending college, would this type of requirement make you more or less likely to attend that particular college?  Do you see this as an infringement on a students right or as a way to take a potential bad decision out of the students hands?

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25 thoughts on “Should College Students Be Forced To Have Health Insurance?

  1. I could be a cynic and suggest this might be an election-year gimmick to remind students to support Obama(care).

  2. I don’t think schools should force it, because not everyone can afford it. For almost all of my undergraduate degree, I had no health insurance. I definitely could not have afforded it.

  3. To be hones, I’m not sure why this is a requirement for college students. I imagine that the college wants to do it for liability reasons. I don’t like the idea of forcing things that should be voluntary, but my opinions don’t make it very far in Washington 🙂

  4. Heck yes, I think it’s a good idea! If a student isn’t still covered under his or her parents’ insurance, they aren’t likely to be able to afford premiums while in school, and what if something happens? This way they can get a discounted plan by getting in with a group rate.

    We have universal health care here in Ontario, and extended health care is STILL required by all of our universities, as far as you know. It’s about $300 built into your tuition and covers you for drugs, eye care, dental and the other stuff not covered by provincial insurance. You can opt out of it, but only if you can show proof that you’re otherwise covered, usually by a parents’ insurance.

  5. Considering that college is often the first time most students are officially “living on their own,” I definitely advocate insurance mandates because you never know when a health crisis or disaster may occur. If students lack adequate coverage during these times, they’re running the risk of financial ruin before they even get established. I understand the cost objectives, but I can’t deny the fact that our medical system is expensive and unruly, especially for those without coverage.

    • I think college kids would likely underestimate their needs given that most kids in college (I’m sure I was one) think that health problems are WAY down the way, but you never know.

  6. At 18 years old, you can get a high deductible policy for less than $100 per month. I think medical insurance is important and it would not prevent e from attending that school.

    • I think people will complain and I think you’ll see a lot of the cost get rolled into student loan debt, but I don’t think you’ll see dropout rates or transfer rates change dramatically as a result.

  7. This is just now coming to your state? Back in the mid-1990s, when I was an undergrad, my college passed the requirement that all undergrads who were at least half-time students had to pay the health center fee, regardless of whether or not they had other health insurance.
    This covered being seen at the campus medical center (which provided most of the care the majority of students needed) and their inexpensive prescriptions. I had to pay it when I was covered under my parents’ insurance and when I was covered under my own.
    I guess the health center fee wasn’t quite $1500/semester, but it was required and it was definitely health insurance.

  8. It should be a requirement. But the cost of the premiums should be included as part of the standard student fees each semester. The only way to opt out is if a student is covered under their parent’s policy or their own.

    • I believe they’re adding it as a line item so the cost is broken out but it is part of the semester billing.

  9. Back in the 80s there was a health insurance fee for me too. You paid it each semester and it covered the campus medical center. I do not believe that college students (or anyone else) should be forced to pay for health insurance.

  10. I didn’t have to buy health insurance when I was in school. I did have private health insurance that I bought myself which was much better than the policy the school offered. Being able to use the school’s health center was a nice perk although I’m sure that was included in my tuition and fees.

  11. $1,500? I would love that. I was admitted to Oregon State University College of Pharmacy, there was no mention of required insurance at first and they never required it in years past. Once I had interviewed and accepted their offer and declined other offers from other schools, I was happily reading emails one day last summer when I came across one that said we were required to pay $4,444 a year to buy the school’s insurance. This is a new policy and when you figure premium increases for the 4 years and figure 6.8% interest on top of tuition loans over a 15 year repayment, it amounts to about $36,000! This is complete BS of course but any mention of it to faculty either goes ignored or they treat you like you’re crazy and they could make life very difficult for you if you mention it again. We can’t get private insurance, even if it’s comparable. Next year they are adding dental insurance. The only option I have to get out of it is to quit school, literally.

  12. I think it’s important for college students to have insurance but I can definitely see where it could be problematic for those students. Typically they are using all of their money to pay for tuition school fees housing and other expenses adding health insurance to that is just another expense that raises the cost of college.

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