Affordable Care Act tightens regulations, keeps young adults insured

The first provisions of the Affordable Health Care Act went into effect on Sept. 30, instituting many immediate changes that will affect students and young adults across the United States.

One of the most important changes includes a provision that allows young adults to stay on their parents' health insurance plans until the age of 26.

"For years, getting a diploma also meant losing your health insurance. And, whether you went on to college or not, it was often hard as a young person to find coverage," said Secretary of Health Kathleen Sibelius in a White House press statement last May.

Additionally, the bill enacts changes that clarify and regulate insurance policies. For example, mistakes on a coverage application no longer allows insurance companies to drop coverage. Furthermore, if an insurance company drops services that were previously thought to be agreed on, it is now easier to appeal this decision.

Beginning in 2014, students will also have the ability to purchase insurance through state exchanges.

These changes went into effect six months after President Barack Obama signed the bill into law. The bill, however, is still mired in controversy as midterm elections approach; it is unclear whether or not plans offered by universities will be subjected to federal mandate.

According to an article published by Inside Higher Ed, an online news source for issues in higher education, many universities offer mandatory health insurance plans that can be overpriced and substandard. Lawmakers are hesitant to regulate these plans during an election season to avoid appearing as though they are trying to withhold student coverage.

Additionally, federally regulated health care plans of universities would offer benefits to students, but not young adults who are not enrolled in college. Whether or not these regulations would come into effect is still to be determined.

A study completed in 2008 by the Government Accountability Office found that 20 percent of college students age 18 to 23 were uninsured at that time.

Geneseo offers a health insurance policy through an independent health insurance company, Niagara National. Geneseo does not require students to purchase a health insurance policy, but offers the option to uninsured students for about $1800 per year.

"We really want our students to have health insurance," said Melinda DuBois, administrative director of the Lauderdale Center for Health and Student Counseling.

Geneseo assigns a health services fee to cover the expenses of the Lauderdale Health and Counseling Center, but students seeking major medical procedures are typically referred to third-party institutions that require health insurance or charge for the full cost of the procedures.

DuBois said it is important that every student have some form of health insurance in the event of serious illness or injury. She added that the new provisions under the Affordable Health Care Act provide new options for students and that more will be staying on their parents' plans now that the option is available.

The Affordable Health Care Act ultimately does not affect Geneseo's health plan, DuBois said. "I don't see that it will force us to change our policies at all."

For more information about the health care bill and its provisions for college students, visit the Young Adults section of