by Matthew Koh, co-editor-in-chief
If you asked people for a list of the top things they enjoy doing, I suspect talking about health insurance isn’t one of them. Yet as ObamaCare progressively unfolds, and as we all try to puzzle out what it means for us, sometimes it feels like talking about insurance is all we do.
Though not fully enacted until 2014, ObamaCare has been rolling out changes since 2010 that have already begun to affect all insurance plans, including the Seminary’s SemCare.
There are about eighty students, both international and domestic, enrolled in SemCare, which offers good, basic coverage, according to Sue Vander Laan, who manages SemCare.
Part of a whole group of insurance for seminaries, SemCare has to be renewed every year, with a yearly or biannual payment. Though you can’t get much cheaper for the benefits you get, some cash strapped students do opt for plans that have high deductibles (SemCare caps its deductibles at $500) or only require quarterly payments.
The changes that ObamaCare has brought to SemCare this year are significant. The max annual cap (maximum an insurer will pay out over the year) doubled from $50,000 to $100,000. Prescription coverage, previously a measly $1,000, rose a hundred times.
But, as Vander Laan reminded me, for every benefit, somebody’s gotta pay. For some students, that somebody may be them.
The cost of insurance for one student rose from $995 to $1,251, which isn’t terrible when you consider the cap rise, especially on prescription medication. However, those with spouses and children insured through the seminary have been more drastically affected.
To insure a spouse, previously $3,240, couples have to fork out $4,018. To insure a child, the price rose from $1,434 to $1,701. Thus a family of four would see their insurance bill increase a whopping $1,792.
This has caused some students to opt for cheaper plans with high deductibles.
When I asked Vander Laan if there were any benefits to ObamaCare, she laughed and said they weren’t really apparent right now. One major benefit, a law that would prevent insurance companies for denying coverage based on preexisting conditions, won’t go into effect until 2014.
When it does, the landscape could change dramatically, especially for students who have trouble getting coverage because of their conditions (one of which includes pregnancy).
Other future changes could include the pay cap rising to half-a-million.
But, as Vander Laan reminds me, insurance companies are businesses looking for a profit, and with all these added benefits, somewhere down the line we’re going to see the prices going up.
And with everything getting more expensive these days, without a comparable rise in salaries, it’s difficult to imagine how we will continue to cope.