On June 28, 2012, the United States Supreme Court upheld the individual health-insurance mandate at the core of President Obama’s landmark health-care law, ruling the mandate is permissible under Congress’ taxing authority. The decision has been deemed a critical victory for the President.
Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. was the swing vote, siding with the 5-4 majority in voting to uphold almost all of Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, President Obama’s signature legislative achievement. The legislation is expected to eventually extend health-care coverage to more than 30 million uninsured Americans.
The health care law has the potential to significantly impact college students and recent graduates. Young adults comprise the largest portion of uninsured Americans. Young Americans who enjoy reasonably good health frequently choose to forego costly health insurance plans. High youth unemployment also contributes to the large percentage of uninsured Americans under 30.
Starting in 2014, young adults will be required to purchase health insurance or face a penalty from the federal government. Young adults can also opt to remain on their parents' insurance plans until they reach the age of 26. The Affordable Care Act empowers the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to take steps to preserve market stability while ensuring student health plans remain affordable until all Americans have new coverage options through the state-based Exchanges that will be established in 2014. “Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, college students will have more control over their health care,” said US Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius.
College health plans, which often kept prices down by offering limited benefits, are expected to become more costly as they conform to the minimum benefit requirements outlined by the health care act. In 2014, Medicaid will expand to individuals with incomes up to 133 percent of the federal poverty level. Young adults seeking healthcare independently will have access to tax credits and waivers for purchasing affordable coverage through health insurance exchanges.