Several provisions of The Senate Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), including the extension of coverage for young people up to age 26 through their parents’ private insurance, will make it easier for students to get insurance and declare independency, according to Dr. Art Paulson, chairman of the political science department.
“Part of what the health package does is it creates insurance exchanges,” he said. “So it allows people to join groups of consumers who will buy insurance from certain clusters of companies and by grouping the consumers it will, theoretically, make the cost go down.”
Paulson said he is disappointed with the lack of public option in the passing of the PPACA.
“For all of the charges made by the opponents of the bill that it’s socialism, there is absolutely no socialism of any kind whatsoever from any intelligent point of view,” he said. “If there had been public option, that one element of the bill would have been socialist because it would have created a government insurance company.”
Defining socialism as “the public ownership of the means of production,” Paulson said, “Free market conservatives, most of whom are republicans, would be correct if they made the argument that there’s a problem with having a public option and then having the government which sponsors the public option also regulate the private health insurance agency.”
Paulson said it would be creating a public health insurance company and allowing that company to regulate its competitors, which he said is hardly a free market situation.
“I would have preferred a public option with deregulation of the private health insurance industry because you don’t have to require a health insurance company to cover previously existing conditions if you are going to provide an option that does that.”
Paulson said although the bill is complex, he would have voted for it anyway.
“Admittedly it’s not a good bill,” he said, “nevertheless, President Obama deserves a lot of credit for getting something done where so many who have tried before have just failed utterly.”
Dr. Diane Morgenthaler, director of health services, said Aetna, the Connecticut State University System’s health care provider, might be changing a policy in the future in light of the PPACA.
“There may be changes down the road based on the fact that students might change from a group to having to apply individually for policies,” she said. “However, with what kind of change that’s going to mean, how that’s going to affect their insurance or whether that’s going to be a plus or minus, we just don’t know
Morgenthaler said Aetna might change the way they pool students but it may not affect them directly.
Aetna defines group market as the health insurance market under which individuals obtain health insurance coverage on behalf of themselves through a group health plan maintained by an employer.
Currently, Aetna looks at the state universities as a group market, according to Morgenthaler.
“They use the statistics of last year’s group of students to determine how much it’s going to cost them to cover this year’s, and typically as a group, you can buy into a plan at a lesser price,” she said. “Presumably as an individual, that could be more [expensive].”
Morgenthaler said there are a large number of students who utilize Southern’s health insurance plan.
“It is good coverage while you can get it so there are a number of students that do that,” she said.
Another benefit indicated by the changes in the PPACA will cover more preventative coverage for office visits, annual exams and physicals, according to Morgenthaler.
“That is one of the things that isn’t covered currently—it’s more of an accident or illness plan—so for routine visits they usually don’t cover it,” she said, “but now with the new policy hopefully you can get coverage.”
Morgenthaler said in general, students should benefit in the long run from the policy changes.
“There are still so many questions, I think we all need to keep abreast of it,” she said. “Let’s hope in the long run it’s going to make a good change because we do need to do something.”