One million additional young adults have health insurance coverage compared to a year ago as a result of the Affordable Care Act, the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services reported on Sept. 21. The act has had little impact on health insurance coverage rates and choices at Stanford so far, though Cardinal Care may become more expensive in future years.
The Affordable Care Act, first signed into law in March 2010, directly impacts young adults because of a policy that allows children under 26 years of age to stay on their parents’ family policy. This policy was intended to bridge a gap in coverage for new college graduates who are still searching for jobs and previously did not qualify to stay on their parents’ family policy.
According to the Department of Health & Human Services, this gap is being filled. Between the first quarter of 2010 and the second quarter of 2011, a Gallup survey showed that the rates of insured adults aged 18 to 25 had increased from 71.0 percent to 75.1 percent.
While national insurance coverage rates are going up, Stanford’s enrollment figures for Cardinal Care have remained fairly stable, indicating that students are not opting to stay on their parents’ plans because of the new law. In 2011, about 30 percent of undergraduates and 75 percent of graduate students had Cardinal Care. According to Leigh Stacy, associate director for finance and administration at Vaden Health Center, the number of enrollees in Cardinal Care this year is similar to last year’s, and perhaps even a little higher.
However, changes are yet to come, due to policies that expand access to preventative health care. The act grants free access to preventative services such as blood pressure, diabetes and cholesterol tests, cancer screening and some vaccinations. Currently, Cardinal Care charges a $20 co-payment fee for preventative care. Another policy also eliminates lifetime limits on benefit payments, which Cardinal Care currently caps at $5 million.
Unfortunately, the backlash of free preventative health care may result in premium costs going up.
“While expanded care is obviously a plus, we are very concerned that it will drive costs up,” Stacy wrote in an email to The Daily. She did not indicate how much costs might change because the final rules and regulations of the act are still in the process of being released.
“Many of the pending changes, especially as they pertain to student plans, have not yet been fully defined or made public,” she said. “Vaden works closely with peer institutions and with industry consultants to keep abreast of information as it is released, but even so, it is difficult at this juncture to determine what the impact to the Cardinal Care plan will be.”