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State bill allows CSU to enforce healthcare

Got health insurance? If you’re a CSU student and the answer is “no,” you will by Feb. 5.

A Colorado state bill has given the university the power to enforce the federal Affordable Care Act — which mandates that all US citizens have healthcare coverage — by requiring its tens of thousands of students to comply with the law as part of attending the university.

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CSU students who already have health insurance will have to show proof of their plan by Feb. 5, 2014 to avoid automatically being enrolled in the university student insurance plan contracted through Nationwide Insurance. The policy change has a far greater impact on financial aid students without health insurance, who will now receive additional money in their package to pay for a plan because it is considered a university expense, like tuition.

CSU supported the change after receiving complaints from financial aid students who said they couldn’t afford federally-mandated health insurance.

“The timing of all of this was a benefit,” CSU Health Network Director Anne Hudgens said. “The federal law changed, so we tied (in) a change in the university policy to require health insurance for all students as a way to increase benefits for students.”

“It was an interesting twist that not requiring health insurance made it harder to some students to get it,” Hudgens added.

The Colorado State Senate sponsor of the bill, Sen. John Kefalas [D], believed its passage would lead to more affordable options for students.

“Ultimately, when students have more choices and more people participate, that brings costs (of healthcare) down,” Kefalas said. “That was the fundamental goal.”

“I’m just trying to find ways to make our healthcare system better. We need to do what we can to provide incentives for students.”

Hudgens maintains that the bill does not change the fact that there was already a national requirement for coverage.

“In some ways, it’s a moot point whether CSU has a health insurance requirement because everyone has to get it anyway,” Hudgens said. “But, now low income students can receive additional benefits.”

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Mackenzie Whitesell, director of health for the Associated Students of CSU, said that all other Colorado universities have this type of rule in place.

“It is important to know that most universities in Colorado have had an undergraduate insurance requirement for quite some time and this is really only a change for CSU (it is not abnormal),” wrote Whitesell in an email to the Collegian.

Collegian Senior Reporter Caitlin Curley can be reached at news@collegian.com.

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