Healthcare reform law will affect WKU students, Health Services

Cameron Koch

Wednesday in Washington the U.S. House of Representatives is scheduled to hold its 31st vote to repeal the Affordable Care Act.

The Supreme Court ruling that the Affordable Care Act, the healthcare reform bill voted into law in 2010, is constitutional continues to stir up debate in the legislature, but college students on both sides of the political spectrum may end up benefiting thanks to one part of the bill.

A major part of the bill, known as the “Individual Mandate” requires those without health insurance to either purchase insurance or be taxed by the government.

Saundra Ardrey, head of the department of political science at WKU, said that college-age students held a large stake in the ruling.

“One of the demographics that will benefit the most from this are young people… more specifically college age students and young people,” Ardrey said.

Another part of the law allows students to stay covered on their parent’s health insurance up to age 26, benefiting undergraduates and students who continue their education at graduate school.

Previously upon receiving an undergraduate degree many students wouldn’t be covered under their parent’s plan, as many insurance companies would drop children at or around age 22.

“With the economy where it is and students and graduates not finding jobs as quickly as before this should help them have some insurance coverage as they try to start their careers,” Ardrey said.

Drucilla Spinks, a Louisville junior, is someone who benefits but doesn’t agree with the law.

Spinks was on her parent’s healthcare plan until she was dropped after turning 19, she said. She now goes without any insurance.

“My parents can’t afford it,” Spinks said. “It’s like once a year that I get sick enough to go to the doctor and it costs so much less for us to deposit that $150 once, as opposed to paying for health insurance every month and nobody using it.”

She said she doesn’t believe the government should be allowed to force her to purchase something that she can’t afford and is fine living without.

“We can’t afford the insurance, but we can’t afford the fine either,” she said.

Spinks is hoping Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney will win the fall presidential election and repeal the bill.

Regardless of what happens in November, Stacie Sutter, assistant director of business operations for Health Services, said the bill will have some effect on students’ use of health services and on the student health insurance plan.

The Affordable Care Act requires many health insurance policies to cover a wider range of preventive care options.

“I think more students may take advantage of the plan, because it is a richer plan,” she said. “There may be more preventive services that students start obtaining because the plan does cover that.”

Linda Heady, insurance and billing coordinator for Health Services, said that students in the past who have been dropped by their parents’ healthcare provider sometimes seek out purchasing health insurance from the university. 

Heady said about 650 students purchase WKU’s policy each semester.

“Those students will potentially now have coverage longer,” Heady said. “We would have gotten a few each semester, but it wasn’t an overwhelming number.”

Though parts of the bill went into immediate effect, many parts of the Affordable Care Act are still being voted on by politicians.

Kentucky senator Rand Paul joined others in vowing to continue fighting the bill, issuing a statement that said in part, “Just because a couple people on the Supreme Court declare something to be ‘constitutional’ does not make it so. The whole thing remains unconstitutional.”

Ardrey said that the Supreme Court’s ruling is final. But, Ardrey said, they simply ruled that the Affordable Care Act is allowable under the U.S. Constitution, not that it is necessarily good or bad law.

“The Supreme Court has the power to interpret the constitution and to interpret law,” Ardrey said. “It wasn’t just a couple of guys. “

It now lies in the hands of Congress on whether or not the bill will pass intact or at all, Ardrey said.

“For those who are fighting it the fight turns now to Congress,” she said.