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Health-care reform could decrease use of UI’s student plans

BY KELLIE PETERSEN | MARCH 30, 2010 7:30 AM

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Health-care reform could mean fewer University of Iowa students using the university’s student insurance plans, said Richard Saunders, a senior associate director of UI Human Resources.

Namely, the law could affect students covered by the UI’s health-insurance plan and recent graduates who find themselves without benefits.

The new health-care law, which President Obama signed into law last week before visiting the UI campus to tout its benefits, will allow young people to remain as dependents on their parent’s insurance until they turn 26.

Under the majority of current plans, young people are covered by their parents’ plan until college graduation, at which point they’re responsible for securing their own coverage.

Extending parental coverage to age 26 may help the reform — 30 percent of young adults between the ages of 20-29 are uninsured, according to a 2008 study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

First-year Ph.D. student Stephanie Kliethermes said the extension would benefit students, as they may not be able to find a job with benefits immediately after graduating.

Though Kliethermes didn’t have trouble with coverage because she enrolled in graduate school after graduation, her brother was dropped from their parents’ plan when he turned 23.

As an entrepreneur, Kliethermes’ brother was faced with buying his own plan or going without insurance.

The new law could also bring changes for students who use the UI’s Student Health Insurance Plan.
Students currently pay $130 per month for enrollment in the UI’s insurance plan. However, the new health-care law could lead that amount to increase, Saunders said.

Under recently signed legislation, insurers must provide more benefits — including preventative care such as examinations, physicals, and vaccines. While those perks will benefit students, the cost of the plan may increase, Saunders said.

The UI has seen a slight increase in the amount of students covered under the university plan. That number jumped from 3,300 to 3,600 between 2008 and 2009.

That increase could be attributed to the state of the economy, Saunders said — he has seen an increase in the number of parents calling to ask about the plan because they’ve recently lost insurance benefits.

“I mean you go back a few years ago, and we never got a call like that, and now we’re getting calls like that,” Saunders said.

While health-care reform agenda could include both positives and negatives for young people, Brian Kaskie, a UI associate professor of health management and policy, said it’s a net gain for students.

He noted items intended to promote health and wellness, such as increased coverage for preventative care.

“The bottom line is that this is good for students,” he said.


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