Colleges try to sneak out of health coverage for students

(This is an excerpt of my weekly column in

For many folks it's hard not be cynical about the state of health care and, in particular, health insurance in this country. While the government rightfully attempts to protect and empower consumers, health insurance companies and colleges are trying to squeeze maximum revenue out of students by offering limited benefit plans at relatively high rates.

This is not meant to demonize health insurance companies or universities. Clearly, some folks could benefit from a limited benefit plan based on their age, health status, risk profile, family history, and ability to pay. However recent pleas by colleges to waive out of some caps and new rules under the Patient Care and Affordable Care Act (ACA) should fall on deaf ears.

Some colleges along with the American Council on Education (who collectively account for 4.5 million students) assert in a letter, dated Aug. 12 and sent to Secretary of Health Kathleen Sebelius, that they will not be able to offer health plans that meet the "essential minimum coverage" required of all individuals in the individual mandate (set to go into effect in 2014). The mandate imposes an annual penalty on individuals who do not have qualifying plans meeting this coverage standard (See ACA §1501).

What these colleges fail to mention in the letter...

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