Is university insurance enough?
The BYU-Idaho Student Health Plan will no longer qualify as minimum essential coverage under the Affordable Care Act.
“If your only health coverage is the BYU-Idaho Student Health Plan, then beginning September 14, you (or your parent(s) if you are claimed tax dependent0 may be subject to a tax penalty on your 2015 and subsequent federal income tax returns for the months you do not have minimum essential coverage,” according to an email from BYU-I sent May 4.
Jessica Moffett, a sophomore studying general education, said she is concerned about the school health plan not qualifying because she is now going to have to find new health coverage and would be personally responsible to pay the find if it were to incur.
The tax penalty for not having coverage in 2015 will be either two percent of the individual’s annual income or $325 per person. The individual will have to pay whichever is higher of the two, according to HealthCare.gov.
The maximum tax penalty per family is $975, according to HealthCare.gov.
The Student Health Plan will still be provided by BYU-I even though it is not Affordable Care Act qualified, according to the email from BYU-I.
“The BYU-Idaho Student Health Plan is a self-funded plan and not insurance,” according to the BYU-I student health plan 2014-2015 handbook.
Shaun Orr, director of the Student Health Center, said the best way to look at the plan is independent.
“All those that are participating in the plan put it into a pool of funds then with a small administrative fee that is used by Deseret Mutual Benefit Administrators, they pay for those claims that are coming in from local hospitals, and basically anywhere in the United States, the plan is good throughout the U.S. for any participating people that are covered with Deseret Mutual Benefit Administrators,” he said.
Orr said the plan has worked since the late ’80s and since then, been good for the students.
Orr said the school did not expand the health plan to unlimited coverage because it would become too expensive.
“A year ago, we lobbied with the state of Idaho to have it be its own health plan,” Orr said.
Orr said the school was hoping the State would carry them through and they wouldn’t have to meet all the demands of the Affordable Care Act. Since then, the government clarified that it requires all health plans to meet all the Affordable care Act requirements in order to avoid a tax penalty.
Orr said there is an estimated 4,700 students and dependents that are on the Student Health Plan.
“If the plan went away, there are millions of dollars that would impact this community every year because of the number of students we have that are using the health plan for services in the community,” he said.
BYU-I requires students to have some form of health insurance to be eligible to enroll in classes, according to the email from BYU-I.
“You may waive the Student Health Plan as long as you are on a parent’s plan or a group insurance plan provided by your employer or your spouse’s employer,” Orr said.
Devin Engberson, a sophomore studying physics who is on the student health plan, said because of the change, he willtry to become included in his parents’ health insurance.
“I’ve been putting off getting on my parent’s plan because it’s nice to be independent,” Engberson said. “I’m 24 already, I should be doing my own thing. But if I can, I’ll jump on with them and then jump off when I can and then not worry about anything else.”
Engberson said he won’t use the school’s insurance if it isn’t enough coverage.
“it sounds like the ACA is offering more services, is what it seems like, but I don’t necessarily think that that’s true,” Engberson said. “I never used the student health insurance so I never really had to worry about it.”
Students like Engberson have until Sept. 14 to find an alternative source for health insurance.
The Open Enrollment Period for 2015 has ended, which is the time citizens can purchase health insurance through the State or Federal government.
Due to the health plan not meeting the minimum essential coverage for the Affordable Care Act, students who are on the student health plan may qualify for the Special Enrollment Period.
The special enrollment period is “A time outside of the open enrollment period during which you and your family have a right to sign up for health coverage,” according to HealthCare.gov. “In the Marketplace, you qualify for a special enrollment period 60 days following certain life events that involve a change in family status (for example, marriage or birth of a child) or loss of other health coverage.”
There are various types of plans that qualify under the ACA like any job-based plan and most Medicaid coverage, according to HealthCare.gov.
For more information, see HealthCare.gov.