Healthcare to be mandatory at Lafayette
By Ariana Giorgi '13
Published: Thursday, May 2, 2013
Updated: Thursday, May 2, 2013 15:05
Next fall, students can expect to see another charge in their student account.
All students will automatically be signed up for the college’s own health insurance policy. They may only opt out by proving their coverage meets qualifications. The policy will be mandatory for international students.
The action comes as a result of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), which is to be instituted January 1, 2014. Under the ACA, every U.S. resident, who is above the poverty line must show proof of purchase of a health insurance plan. Failure to do so would warrant a health tax penalty.
“I have been pushing for this for a long time,” said Dr. Jeffrey Goldstein, Director of Health Services and College Physician.
Although previously the school only mandated health insurance for student athletes, Goldstein believes the right step is to regulate insurance for international students as well. His experience has shown many international students were underinsured by policies outside of Lafayette’s. Goldstein estimates that only about 200 students are currently under Lafayette’s health insurance plan.
According to Vice President for Campus Life Annette Diorio, groups of individuals who represent various campus offices decided that a mandatory health plan would be the right measure for Lafayette to pursue. The group believed the plan would be a great benefit to students.
“There is a cohort of our students who are either underinsured or not insured who face significant financial challenges when they require medical treatment,” Diorio said. “We are able to offer a fairly cost effective way for students to get a policy that is more robust than what students were finding on their own.”
While this action will be new for Lafayette, Pennsylvania State University has had a similar program instituted for over 20 years. Penn State’s plan is mandatory for international students and optional for domestic students—regardless of proof of another plan.
Karen Kline, Manager of Student Health Insurance at PSU said the incentive to create this policy was that health care is not the same internationally. Without a structured system set up, international students run the risk of not understanding their new system.
And with the introduction of ACA, by making some sort of health insurance plan mandatory, “Lafayette is really doing you a favor,” Kline said.
Students and parents can expect to see upcoming information included in details released for the fall term, according to Diorio. This will explain the cost and benefits of the college policy, and also how to opt out if you choose your own coverage that meets qualifications. Goldstein said students will be charged until they report or show that they are under the coverage of some policy.
This plan would not affect Bailey Health Center, as it will operate as usual independently of health insurance. The insurance plan would be used for services that come from outside of the health center.
Domestic students have until August 1 to opt out.