Kalamazoo College's Student Newspaper
By Darrin Camilleri, Staff Writer
The Supreme Court may or may not rule President Obama’s signature domestic law—the Affordable Care Act (ACA)—unconstitutional because of an individual mandate to purchase insurance, but Kalamazoo College will start requiring that all incoming students have health insurance anyway, said Student Health Center Director Lisa Ailstock, Physician Assistant Certified (PA-C).
“Regardless, beginning the 2012-13 school year, health insurance enrollment is required for all entering full-time students and all international students attending K College,” she said.
Currently, approximately ten percent of K College students are uninsured, and ten percent are underinsured, Ailstock said. “If the ACA stands, all students will have to be insured [by 2014].”
On a national level, the individual mandate has been the most controversial component of the Affordable Care Act.
“This act fundamentally infringes upon the freedom of Americans to pursue their own path in terms of health care,” said Kalamazoo College Republicans President Jenna Neumann. “If one does not want to participate in the government’s version of health care, they should have the freedom to abstain.”
Others believe the mandate is necessary to implement the law.
“The individual mandate is the way the system will pay for itself; without it, there doesn’t seem to be a foundation on which the other provisions can be built,” said Alison Geist, Director of the Mary Jane Underwood Stryker Institute for Service-Learning and Professor of Public Health.
The mandate has neither gone into effect nor yet been ruled unconstitutional, but some elements of the Affordable Care Act have been implemented already.
“The two things that affect me most are that young people are able to stay on their parents’ health insurance until the age of 26, and that birth control is going to be free,” said Kalamazoo College Democrats Secretary Abby Miner. “If the Supreme Court finds that they are going to be unconstitutional, those are the two aspects that I would be most upset about.”
Behind closed doors, the Supreme Court voted last week on the future of the ACA, but analysts said the decision would not be released until June.
Whichever way the Supreme Court has decided, Kalamazoo College’s uninsured ten percent will eventually be reduced to zero percent. “It will take four years to get the entire campus covered, but I feel this is an important goal,” Ailstock said.