Quotes to Note: Affordable Care Act

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Editor’s note: Many college students rely on their parents’ health insurance plan, but soon they may well be on their own and planning to care for their parents. What should students look out for in the long-anticipated U.S. Supreme Court Affordable Care Act (ACA) decision and its aftermath? UT faculty members give their opinions, which have been edited for clarity.

“It is difficult to predict what the Supreme Court will do. But one thing is certain: The Court’s decision could affect many young adults who are now covered under their parents’ policies if the mandate is struck down. Nationwide, and in Texas, this age segment of the population is most likely to be uninsured. Even so, the young population is generally healthy and, on average, coverage [for them] costs less than for the old. As a result, insurers may want to keep this section of the law.”
Jacqueline Angel, Professor of Public Affairs and Sociology
LBJ School of Public Affairs

“Many will be covered on their parents’ plan until [age] 26,even if the ACA is found unconstitutional, at least for a while, since insurance contracts often run through the first of the year. And, in many cases, employers and insurance companies will keep that benefit in place. UT, for instance, offered [the option] to its employees to keep children on their health insurance so long as [the children] were not married or eligible for employee coverage. In terms of caring for their parents in the future, the ACA will not be terribly relevant since the ACA does not change Medicare coverage for those over 65. It does have some reductions in cost for pharmaceuticals while in the donut hole [the commonly used name for a Medicare coverage gap] and also makes a number of preventive services free under Medicare. Also, if their parents intend to retire before 65 and do not have employer-based coverage, the ACA will make buying coverage cheaper and more transparent than presently.”
David Warner, Professor in Health and Social Policy
LBJ School of Public Affairs

“The future of the parental coverage (until the age of 26) provision of the ACA is very much up in the air. The Supreme Court could uphold the ACA’s individual mandate provision, and then there’s no problem for students. It could also write a narrow opinion scrapping the individual mandate but leaving the rest intact (legally). It could also write a broad opinion and strike the whole ACA down. That would be bad for students needing parental coverage.

However, (a) some insurance companies have said they will maintain the parental coverage provision in their policies, even if the ACA is struck down. And (b), some Republicans are interested in reenacting some of the ACA’s more popular provisions, like the parental coverage provision, if the ACA is struck down. Other Republicans, however, want to eliminate every bit of ACA’s DNA down to its last molecule.

Importantly, even if insurance companies voluntarily keep parental coverage and/or Congress reenacts it, and if the individual mandate is struck down, there is serious question as to whether parental coverage and other provisions of the ACA, such as barring the refusal of coverage due to preexisting conditions, would be economically sustainable.”
Robert Prentice, Professor of Business Law
McCombs School of Business

“Whether or not the individual mandate is upheld, young people will need to think about finding jobs that include health insurance or finding health insurance plans they can afford to pay for out of pocket. One accident or illness could easily cause them to owe as much as or more than they do in student loans. Most important: Young people can help in figuring out how to rein in health care costs and develop a system that provides Americans of all ages access to routine as well as catastrophic health care.”
Diana DiNitto, Professor in Alcohol Studies and Education
School of Social Work

“The requirement for insurers to allow parents to insure their children until 26 has been very popular. Although the Republicans do not support health care reform, they have stated that they would want to continue this provision. If the Supreme Court supports health care reform, students will be required to purchase insurance from their employer or from a state or federal health care exchange. In the past, many young adults have forgone health insurance. Under health care reform, this choice would lead to tax penalties. In terms of parents, health care reform does expand coverage for things not currently covered by Medicare (e.g. prescription drugs), which will decrease the financial burden on parents and/or their children. Health care reform is also purported to be a method for containing rising health care costs, so both parents and children will, one might hope, pay less out of pocket for their insurance over time than they will if the health care reform law is overturned.”
Kristie J. Loescher, Senior Lecturer
McCombs School of Business