What’s next with health insurance?

Sept. 18, 2013, 9:07 p.m.

There are new options for student health insurance on the horizon. Under the federal Affordable Care Act (ACA), all states will open health insurance exchanges in 2014. These online marketplaces will have a variety of plans with different levels of coverage. For those eligible, enrollment opens in early October and coverage will commence Jan. 1, 2014. We are following these developments closely, and we recommend that students do, too.

While the ACA spells out the broad requirements, much is still unknown. We have yet to learn how much these new plans will cost, how robust their benefits will be and which physicians and hospitals will accept them. Yet to be revealed are the rules and process for an individual to establish eligibility and to enroll. For example, for the California exchange (coveredca.com), how will residency and tax status be established? We expect more clarity in the coming weeks.

Because the new options will not take effect until January, they can’t be counted upon to meet students’ immediate needs or to satisfy the university’s requirement for students to maintain insurance coverage. To share information about this fluid and ambiguous situation, we have posted some Q&A’s on the Vaden Health Center website at http://vaden.stanford.edu, including more about ACA and Cardinal Care, the university-sponsored student health insurance plan.

We collect student input annually, but considering the dramatic changes in health care, we will intensify that effort this fall with a survey and focus groups to better understand students’ future health coverage needs. Our goal is to assure that students have access to quality, affordable health care. We invite your comments at [email protected].

Ira Friedman, MD is Director of the Vaden Health Center and Associate Vice Provost for Student Affairs. Contact him at [email protected]

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