Supreme Court ruling changes BYU employee insurance plans but not student plans

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BYU faculty and staff could see increases in insurance costs now that the Supreme Court has upheld the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

Aaron Larson, the associate director of administration over Student Health Services, said the Student Health Plan, on the other hand, is mostly exempt from the health care legislation.

[media-credit name=”AP Photo/ Nam Y. Huh” align=”alignright” width=”300″]People celebrate as they hold signs during a rally at Daley Plaza in Chicago on Thursday, June 28, 2012. In a dramatic victory for President Barack Obama, the Supreme Court upheld the 2010 health care law Thursday, preserving Obama’s landmark legislative achievement.[/media-credit]
People celebrate as they hold signs during a rally at Daley Plaza in Chicago on Thursday, June 28, 2012. In a dramatic victory for President Barack Obama, the Supreme Court upheld the 2010 health care law Thursday, preserving Obama’s landmark legislative achievement.
“We haven’t anticipated any cost increases related to future benefits changes,” Larson said of the student plan. “For all intents and purposes, it is an insurance plan, but it does not meet the definition of insurance because BYU’s Student Plan is a self-funded plan, and there is no subsidy from any other source other than the student premiums.”

In addition to being self-funded, Larson said the student plan has no direct relationship to a group or individual insurance plan.

The same is not true for BYU employees.

“The BYU employee plan will have some benefit changes that will likely incur some cost increases,” Larson said. “The BYU employee plan will probably have to comply with every facet of the health care reform law.”

For employee insurance plans, a few changes will be made, including preventative care being completely covered. This change, however, will not be implemented in the student plan.

Many of the changes the Health Care Reform Act implements were already made for both BYU employee and student policies over the past 10 years.

“It had an impact and only a practical impact,” Larson said. “It was a change from the past.”

Larson said BYU made changes to the employee policy in January 2011 to comform with the new legislation, such as covering preexisting conditions. When BYU made the change it absorbed the less than 1 percent increase in the premium.

Larson said there are several ways to determine whether a plan will be required to comply with the health care legislation.

“It all comes down to who controls the funds,” Larson said. “BYU controls its own funds and it is granted that exception by the state of Utah.”

The employee plan is a group insurance plan from an employer to a group of employees and therefore has to comply with all federal healthcare insurance mandates.

James Turner, from The Chronicle of Higher Education, said that although college students have better health than their peers, the Health Care Reform Act will give students better health care options.

“Ultimately that means more college students will have health insurance, which will help preserve college health services, standardize the cost-and-benefits structure of college health insurance plans and make it easier for colleges to serve students and refer them for specialty or inpatient care and diagnostic tests,”  he said.

BYU student insurance has undergone several changes over the past 10 years that allow expansive and comprehensive coverage as well as being independent from other sources. Beginning in 2002, BYU’s student insurance became independent, meaning it didn’t outsource the insurance to alternative insurances.

In addition to BYU, BYU-Hawaii self-regulates it’s insurance among its students and BYU-Idaho anticipates the same change.

Many other colleges are controlled by third-party insurance companies but are are moving toward a self-funded student plan model. All of the California state university network is moving towards that model.

Although the Huffington Post reports young adults to be the highest uninsured group, BYU requires all students to have insurance. Larson reminded students that in order to choose a relevant plan they should choose a health plan that is effective in the Provo area, rather than just their home state or country.

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