On March 21, 2010, Congress passed a healthcare reform bill that will drastically change many students’ lives. Here is the breakdown of what to expect from healthcare reform and how individual issues will affect USF students.
1. Dependent Coverage
With the passing of the healthcare reform bill, young people can now be covered by their parents’ insurance provider until age 26. Previously, dependents could be kicked off their parents’ plans as early as age 19. This means that most students graduating from USF this year will not lose coverage after graduation.
2. Small business tax incentives
Small business owners will now be given tax breaks if they offer their employees healthcare coverage. Many students graduating, especially in San Francisco’s booming small business community, will get jobs at independent companies or businesses. These employers could not afford health insurance coverage without the new tax breaks.
3. Regulation of insurance companies
Insurance companies will not be allowed to deny coverage due to “pre-existing conditions” and cannot drop people who develop a condition after accepting coverage. Pre-existing conditions can include cancer, pregnancy, autism, diabetes, and chronic illnesses. Students who have previously been denied coverage due to pre-existing conditions can reapply for health insurance and students who already have insurance cannot be dropped if they get in a car accident, develop and illness, require a medical procedure, etc.
4. State regulation
States are not allowed to reduce Medicare or Medicaid until 2014, when healthcare exchanges will be in full effect. These exchanges will create subsidized options for students and their families who do not have insurance and report an income of up to 400% of the poverty level to buy insurance. Until these exchanges are in place, every state’s Medicare and Medicaid can increase but cannot decrease. Some states have circumvented this rule. Arizona, for example, eliminated its children’s healthcare program the week prior to Congress passing the federal healthcare reform.
5. Abortions not covered
A pending Executive Order will eliminate the tax-payer funding for abortion coverage. Individuals must pay for abortions by using private insurance premiums.