College students have much to rejoice for in health care reform bill
This is largely due to section 2714, Extension of Dependent Coverage. It states: "In General, a group health plan and a health insurance issuer offering group or individual health insurance coverage that provides dependent coverage of children shall continue to make such coverage available for an adult child (who is not married) until the child turns 26 years of age."
In addition to students being able to retain coverage from their parents throughout college and beyond, the health care bill is likely to have other residual benefits:
- The percentage of students with parental coverage will increase. Currently 67% of college students are covered by their parents' employee sponsored insurance payments. With the new laws in place, this number will increase dramatically. More parents will have health insurance due to increased population coverage, and those parents will also be able to cover their college age students medical needs with their family policies.
- Students will be able to take needed time off without losing insurance coverage. Previously, a student was only covered if they were enrolled full time, and then only until graduation. According to Insidehighered.com, "Groups more likely to be uninsured include part-time students, older college students (aged 22-23), students with lower family incomes, and Hispanic, black and Asian students." Now with the new 26-year-old age limit, students can take a semester off to work, take a gap year to travel, and then still have a year or two after college graduation to enjoy the benefits of parental insurance coverage. This allows students to work at a more comfortable pace and perhaps pay their own way through college.
- The overall health of everyone on campus will improve.Students without health insurance tend to ignore their health and infect other students. They sometimes don't take the full course of antibiotics, saving leftovers for the next illness. They may ignore the symptoms of sexually transmitted diseases, potentially spreading STDs. Mental health issues can go untreated, and become explosive. All these things can affect the entire student body. With proper health care, students will be less likely to let these issues fester.
- Older and married students will have health care.Health care laws benefiting the greater population would also benefit married and over-age graduate students, giving them access to the same health care options as those who don't qualify for job-related insurance. They won't need to worry about coverage caps or being dropped from their insurance if they get sick. In addition, the costs of health care for these students can be covered by financial aid.
The health care bill was bundled with a little law that will completely overhaul the student loan and financial aid system. It is called the Student Aid and Fiscal Responsibility Act (SAFRA). According to The Daily Princetonian, "Under the old system, the largest federal student loan -- the Federal Family Education Loan Program (FFELP) -- did not lend money directly to students, but instead created a system of subsidies to encourage various private lenders to lend to students. Under SAFRA, by contrast, the FFELP would be abolished, and all student loans would be distributed through the Direct Loan Program, which lends federal money directly to students." In addition, the estimated $61 billion dollars that would be saved over the next 10 years by cutting the middle man out of student loans, would go largely to increase Pell Grants to needy students. This would increase the maximum Pell Grant from $5,350 to $5,975 by 2017.
This will help take the mystery out of getting a student loan. Where more than 1,200 banks used to issue student loans, there will now be one: the Department of Education. Repayment will also be streamlined, and more friendly toward graduates who haven't hit pay-dirt yet. Repayment of student loans would be based on income, topping out at 10%.
There are potential problems with SAFRA. That with only one source for student loans, monopoly-like behavior and poor customer service will abound. Can you imagine getting your student loan from the post office or Department of Motor Vehicles?