ACE has asked the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to clarify how self-funded student health insurance may be recognized as providing “minimal essential coverage” under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), the health care reform bill signed into law in 2010.
In a letter today to HHS, ACE and a group of higher education associations said it is essential that the department provides guidance to colleges and universities that offer coverage for students under self-funded plans so students are not penalized for failing to satisfy the so-called individual mandate to buy health care coverage.
The individual mandate takes effect in 2014, but the letter urges HHS to issue guidance by fall 2012 so that institutions will have time to implement any changes for these plans before the 2013-14 school year begins in August 2013.
There are more than 30 not-for-profit higher education institutions offering self-funded health insurance plans, which cover more than 300,000 students. Among these colleges and universities are major public and private institutions such as the 11 campuses of University of California, the five campuses of University of Minnesota, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Harvard University, Princeton University and Yale University.
The department has said it has no authority to regulate self-funded student health benefit plans because they are neither health insurance coverage nor group health plans.
The groups say that while they are not challenging HHS’s conclusion that it lacks authority to regulate these plans, they are asking the department to use the authority provided to the HHS secretary by the ACA to designate other types of coverage—including self-funded student health plans—as minimum essential coverage necessary to satisfy the individual mandate.
Student Health Plans and the Affordable Care Act
Department of Health and Human Services
Student Health Insurance Coverage Final Regulations: Summary of Major Provisions (PDF)
ACE Comments on Proposed Student Health Plan Rules (April 14, 2011)