We’ve written before about how Presidential administration policies have harmed students at historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs). This fall, more stringent Parent PLUS loan requirements resulted in thousands of students at HBCUs dropping out because they could not afford their tuition without these loans. Today we write about the outcry at one HBCU in Maryland over another policy that is causing problems and making college more costly – the Affordable Care Act!
Bowie State University students are speaking out en masse against the ACA (aka Obamacare) because it has cost them what truly was affordable health coverage and is offering no viable alternative. The college has long offered extremely cheap coverage to students for a paltry $50 a semester. But with the strictures enacted by Obama’s signature healthcare legislation, costs have risen to $900 a semester, so the school has had to cancel coverage.
Bowie State’s website posted a Health Insurance Update this Fall that stated, “Due to the new requirements of the Affordable Care Act which will go into effect on January 1, 2014, the cost of insurance for domestic students will increase to approximately $1800 per year. If you were covered by the university health insurance last Spring 2013, your policy will expire on August 29, 2013.”
One student interviewed by Campus Reform said, “What it was hyped up to be, was that it was supposed to solve a lot of problems and help a lot of people, and it’s not really doing that.” Bowie State’s campus newspaper, the Bulldog Collegian, first reported the cancellation of student health coverage that was sent via email to campus addresses that are not used by many students and to the college administration’s website.
College administrators say they hope that most students will be able to be covered under their parents’ plans, but for those low income students whose parents themselves do not have coverage, what does this mean? The law mandates that they buy coverage for themselves if they can’t piggyback onto their parents and for many, this may be the tipping point that makes college unaffordable.
Students interviewed about the loss of their health coverage have said, “I can’t afford anything right now. I can’t even afford my loans,” and “We don’t have that money. We can barely afford books.” For students that can’t access parents’ insurance plans, will complying with Obamacare cost them their college educations?
Based on the problems with Healthcare.gov that have prevented effective enrollment and the greater-than-anticipated premiums, perhaps the Obama administration will offer a reprieve on the individual mandate as they have for the business requirement to participate in the Affordable Care Act. If not, we will likely see an uptick in student loan borrowing to cover the increased costs for these already cash-strapped college students.
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