March 11, 2010

A health-care mandate for education

Over the next week I'll be writing a few entries about health care. Today, it's the benefit of an individual mandate for college completion. The individual mandate is the package deal that goes with universal coverage, to get healthy people into the insured pool, and it's also important to help college students finish. Every year, USF and every public college and university loses students because they get sick or have a financial crisis because they or a family member get sick. Even if imperfectly enforced, an individual mandate would give colleges and universities the political ability to require proof of insurance upon enrollment, and that would safeguard both the individual investment of the student and her/his family and the public investment as she or he starts college.

Yes, there are alternatives, but they're all bad: Many colleges offer a very high-premium plan for students because the pool they can compose out of their students (or a fraction of their students) is tiny. Together with the option to stay on their parents' plans until 26, an individual mandate would give college students more choice by letting them enter the exchange markets instead of having one horrid option for health insurance in college. An individual mandate would make sure that our public investment in higher education is not wasted by a spurious event that no one can control.

(Obviously, someone in the White House reads my blog because they're emulating thought of the same idea as they echo my uninsured-death-every-24 21-minutes entry in their final push, highlighting key numbers on the issue:  625 Americans who lose health insurance every hour, 8 health special-interest lobbyists for every member of Congress, 8 Americans denied coverage every minute either by loss of insurance or other means, and $1115 paid every month on average for a family premium.)

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Posted in Education policy on March 11, 2010 1:30 PM |