The Daily Tar Heel

Serving the students and the University community since 1893

Tuesday March 28th

Health care reform's impact on UNC students

Christine Crowther doesn’t have a job lined up for when she graduates  and said she doubts she’ll find one that provides health insurance.

So Crowther said she’s relieved that, under the new health insurance legislation that President Barack Obama signed into law Tuesday, she can remain on her parents’ health insurance until she turns 26.

“I’m really glad that they passed something,” said Crowther, a political science major who has volunteered with Democratic campaigns.

The new legislation, which passed the U.S. House of Representatives in a 219-212 vote Sunday night, provides subsidies for insurance coverage and blocks insurers from excluding people with pre-existing conditions. It also requires employers with more than 50 workers to offer insurance or pay a fine.

The House also voted Sunday to pass a separate bill that mediates some of the differences between the bill Obama signed and a version passed by the House in November. The Senate is expected to vote on that bill this week.


1. Dependent until age 26

Young adults will be able to remain on their parents’ insurance plans up to age 26 unless offered health coverage by an employer under the new legislation. Insurers currently cut children off at different ages, often when they leave college.  “The dependent coverage is big,” said Pam Silberman, president of the North Carolina Institute of Medicine. The clause takes effect later this year.

2. Pre - existing conditions

The legislation bars insurers from excluding children based on pre-existing health conditions. This provision takes effect later this year. By 2014, insurers will be prevented from denying coverage to people with medical problems or refusing to renew their policies.

3. Subsidies for coverage

Consumers buying insurance through state-run exchanges will receive subsidies if their income falls below 400 percent of the federal poverty level (about $43,000 for a single individual). The exchanges are scheduled to begin operating in 2014.

4. Catastrophic insurance

The insurance exchanges will offer four levels of benefit packages with different premiums and coverage levels. People younger than 30 will qualify for a fifth option known as a catastrophic plan with low premiums meant to appeal to young people. It would cover services upward of $6,000, typically emergency procedures but not most low-cost services. The plan would cover all preventive services and three primary care visits per year, Silberman said.

5. Student plans unaffected

Higher education groups expressed concerns after the Senate bill passed that student health insurance wouldn’t qualify for the group rates employers receive for health insurance. But that problem has been addressed. Students at UNC-system schools are not required to buy campus health plans but must have insurance coverage starting in the fall.

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