Obamacare’s latest target: Low-income college students

Corie Whalen Stephens | Spokesperson, Generation Opportunity

Much has been made of Obamacare’s “adult child” provision — the portion of the law that allows dependents to stay on their parents’ health insurance until they’re 26. Some have interpreted this to mean that all plans must cover individuals up to that age, but it actually just allows for the possibility if you’re fortunate enough to have a comprehensive plan. Ultimately, it’s a bone thrown to upper-middle class Millennials who can afford to sip hot cocoa in their onesies while mom and dad foot the bills. But not every “adult child” has that luxury.

What about families that lack the resources to fund their twenty-something’s health insurance? Or young adults who, like me, reject the condescending “adult child” concept outright? Advocates of Obamacare claim that the program’s subsidies should make up for a lack of dependency on our parents (ignoring, of course, market reforms that would actually make healthcare affordable). But like any taxpayer funded redistribution scheme, these subsidies create economic distortions and discourage the kind of competition that lowers overall costs.

Even worse, Obamacare has explicitly banned millions of plans people were happy with, offering in their place more costly, substandard insurance with narrower doctor networks. Sadly, one of the targets of this failed attempt at social engineering has been low-income college students. Across the nation, young people who purchased plans through their universities are now seeing sticker shock beyond their wildest dreams.

In some states, the situation is so bad that colleges have dropped the requirement that students be insured – putting a damper on Obamacare’s alleged goal of reducing the number of uninsured Americans. Take North Carolina as an example. Plans at the state’s public schools increased from $460 per semester to $709. At private schools, a hike of $668 per semester to $1,179 was seen. Unfortunately, this trend isn’t isolated to just North Carolina and a few of its campuses.

Health care policy analyst Avik Roy warned that because Obamacare bans the sort of affordable policies that low-income college students depend on, we could expect price hikes as high as 1,112 percent. This cost increase has profoundly damaged young people attempting to better their economic prospects. College students are already dealing with tuition costs that have risen by 6.5 percent each year for the past decade due in large part to federal loan subsidies. Despite this, the government continues to pile on while politicians feign confusion over the 15.8 percent youth unemployment rate.

As Roy noted at Forbes, these cost increases for students are happening virtually across the board. A couple of particularly egregious examples include the State University of New York in Plattsburgh, where for the entire school year, premiums were $440 per student. Now, they’re between $1,300 and $1,600. The University of Puget Sound in Tacoma, Washington is facing an even bigger disparity: a jump from $165 per year to somewhere between $1,500 and $2,000 annually, and will no longer be offering coverage through the college. Cornell College in Iowa, Lenoir-Rhyne University in North Carolina, and Bethany College in Kansas are also among many institutions of higher education that will no longer provide school-based coverage due to Obamacare.

If the above instances aren’t bad enough, it’s become clear that those most adversely impacted by Obamacare’s gutting of their university plans are students at historically black colleges and community schools. As Eugene Craig, the President of Young Americans for Liberty at Bowie State University in Maryland noted during an appearance on Fox News, the school’s plans that many of his peers were dependent on were suspended after Obamacare increased rates from $100 to $1,800 per year.

In New Jersey, the state’s entire network of community colleges has suffered as costs increased up to $1,700 per year. Students are struggling so much that the state’s legislature repealed a longstanding law that required all university students to have coverage. Perhaps the fact that Obamacare has banned affordable university health insurance won’t impact students who are able to depend on their families. But minorities, recent immigrants, unskilled workers, and low-income students are being pushed into uninsured status or forced to rely on substandard Medicaid plans they could’ve avoided had Obamacare not made the private insurance they used to have illegal.

Creating government dependency when an existing system was working for both the university and student body speaks to the trouble with Obamacare and other programs like it. Most Americans agree that some form of a safety net to eliminate the possibility of absolute poverty is a favorable concept. But when politicians ban cooperation between consenting parties in order to foster a reliance on government, they’re discouraging personal responsibility and social mobility: two hallmarks of the American Dream. Young Americans have had enough of being treated like children who need to be dependent on either our parents or the government, when all we really want is the same opportunities past generations have been afforded as a result of economic freedom. It’s time for government to step out of our way once and for all, and let us thrive.

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