Health reform to affect few students

While health care reform may affect many young adults nationwide, few students in Yale’s graduate and professional schools will likely see an impact.

The recently passed health care reform act forces insurance companies to cover children up to age 26 under their parents’ insurance. But many Yale graduate and professional students are older than 26 or already receive free insurance through the University, said school officials. Most Yale undergraduates are too young to be affected at all.

The change would only affect a small number of students who enter graduate and professional schools soon after graduating from college. Still, Paul Genecin, director of Yale University Health Services, said students with outside insurance cannot use the same Yale medical services as students on the Yale Health Plan.

“The main benefit of the bill is for students who have finished undergrad and are no longer eligible for school-based health plans, but haven’t started grad school yet or have a job without health care benefits,” said Genecin in an e-mail.

Eighty percent of Yale graduate and professional students, including 100 percent of doctoral students, have insurance through the Yale Health Plan, Genecin said. Currently, all Yale students are required to have basic health insurance, but those who are covered under their parents or spouses’ insurance are allowed to opt out of the Yale Health Plan. Genecin said he does not know whether the number of students covered by the Yale Health Plan will change after the legislation takes effect this September, allowing students age 26 and under to remain on their parents’ insurance.

“We don’t know what the status will be of student health plans,” he said in an e-mail. “The wording of the bill is vague, and how it will be interpreted is not yet certain.”

Because students who have outside insurance and are not on the Yale Health Plan cannot take advantage of YUHS services such as CT scans and orthopedist appointments, Genecin said, Yale insurance is often more beneficial for students living in New Haven. But at the same time, he said, students under Yale Health Plan are not covered when they see doctors for non-emergency visits outside of New Haven.

All graduate and professional students receive basic coverage embedded in their tuition, which includes primary care, urgent care, gynecology, mental health services and laboratory service. Except for doctoral students, all others have to pay for hospitalization and specialty care coverage, which costs $1,844 this year.

Yale’s policy toward graduate and professional students’ insurance is likely to continue as is, said Genecin.

At the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, students enrolled at least half-time in master’s and doctoral programs do not have to pay for basic coverage under the Yale Health Plan. Students at the School of Medicine also receive basic coverage free of charge while students at the School of Nursing receive free primary care but must pay for hospitalization and specialty insurance. But students at other professional schools, such as the School of Management and School of Art, are required to pay $1,844 annually for coverage under the Yale Health Plan if they do not have outside insurance.

The effects of the health care reform policy is not likely to affect many medical students who already receive basic coverage free of charge if they attend Yale at least halftime, said Nancy Angoff SPH ’81 MED ’90, the associate dean of student affairs at the medical school. The average age of a student entering Yale medical school is between 23 and 24, she added. Since 50 percent of medical students finish their degree in five years, they could remain under their parents’ insurance for two years at most, she said.

“Personally, I prefer [the students] have the Yale Health Plan,” Angoff said. “The drawback is that out-of-state insurance doesn’t cover some things like physical therapy.”

Law School spokeswoman Janet Conroy said law students paying at least half tuition receive Yale basic coverage free of charge. But Yale also requires such students to buy YHP hospitalization and speciality coverage, which costs around $1,900 for a single student. Law students can waive the hospitalization plan if they can show proof they have adequate coverage.

Extended parental coverage may not be particularly beneficial to law students because of their age. Historically, the average age of entering students has been around 25 or 26, said Conroy, though the average was 24 in 2009.

School of Management students are even less likely to be affected by the health care reform measure. Spokeswoman Tabitha Wilde said the average age of students in the most recent entering class is 28, so the majority cannot be claimed as dependents.

Seven out of eight graduate students interviewed said they have health insurance through Yale and six said they are satisfied with the services. Sam Malissa GRD ’10 said most people in the graduate school he knows are older than 26, adding that discussion among his peers about health care reform centers more on how it will affect the nation than on how it will affect their university insurance.

Barret Anderson LAW ’12, who is 24, said he had to buy the Yale hospitalization plan because he was dropped from his parents insurance when he was 22. But even if he were still covered under his parents’ plan, he explained, he would still buy Yale insurance because it is more convenient.

“We have a pretty high tuition and the insurance is like a drop in the bucket,” he said. “It’s not something I lose sleep over.”

Agnieszka Rec GRD ’15 is still on her parents’ health plan, which she said is better since it covers prescriptions and dental work. Graduate and professional students will have the option of purchasing dental insurance through Delta Dental for the first time this coming fall.

“I’m going to stay on my parents’ plan as long as I can,” said Rec, who will otherwise be dropped as a dependent when she turns 25 in November.

The health care reform legislation is estimated to cost $940 billion over the next 10 years.

Comments