Obamacare forces HBCU to drop student health insurance

Cyril Josh Barker | 11/21/2013, 3:05 p.m.

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) is being blamed for one historically Black college having to cut out its health care plan for its students. The issue is raising questions on whether other schools will follow suit.

Bowie State University in Maryland is at the center of the conversation. The school had to cancel its school-wide health care plan for students due to a nearly 1,500 percent increase in costs.

“Bowie State University has suspended offering health insurance for domestic students for the 2013-2014 academic year,” officials at the school said. “Due to new requirements of the Affordable Care Act, which will go into effect on Jan. 1, 2014, the cost of insurance for domestic students will increase to approximately $1,800 per year.”

When the cost is broken down, students would have to pay $900 per semester compared to $50 a semester last school year. The school decided just not to offer students health insurance because it was too expensive. The health insurance policies of students who were covered last spring 2013 expired in August.

The school informed students that most of them are now able to be covered under their parent’s health plans up to age 26 at no additional cost. New affordable coverage is becoming available through the Maryland State Insurance Exchange System.

The ACA, also known as Obamacare, is having a devastating effect on many colleges, community colleges and universities across the nation. New Jersey colleges recently canceled their college health plans. However, at HBCUs, where a large number of students depend on schoolwide health care, the pain is even sharper.

A recent meeting was held among United Methodist HBCUs to discuss the upcoming changes brought on by Obamacare. The General Board of Higher Education and Ministry’s Black College Fund Council of Presidents met with schools’ chief financial officers and human resources directors in Nashville, Tenn., with representatives from Educational & Institutional Insurance Administrators Inc.

The group consisted of 11 HBCUs with 16,000 students. Obamacare will also have an effect on employees at several HBCUs

There is new governmental pressure to control costs, so we have to look at everything,” said Dr. Walter Kimbrough, president of the Council of Presidents and of Dillard University in New Orleans. “Health care costs are one of our biggest cost centers. In reviewing the new law, it may be advantageous for both employees and the university for us to not offer health care and have everyone use the exchanges. In fact, for some employees, they may even get more of a benefit by using the exchanges.”