NAICU Washington Update

HHS Publishes Final Regulations for Student Health Insurance Plans

March 23, 2012

The Department of Health and Human Services recently published final regulations clarifying how student health insurance plans (SHIPs) will be affected by provisions in President Obama's Affordable Care Act's Patient's Bill of Rights. The majority of these regulations will take effect on April 21.

See the final regulations here, and related fact sheet here.

The fact sheet gives a short analysis of the changes the new law requires of SHIPs. The much more detailed final regulations summarize all the public commentary, and resulting decisions by HHS, in an issue-by-issue format.

Not addressed in the fact sheet is the highly volatile issue of mandatory contraceptive coverage in college and university health plans. The final regulations indicate that SHIPs that currently do not cover contraceptives will be required to cover the costs starting August 1, 2013, following a one-year "safe harbor."

Further language indicates the Obama administration is allowing contraceptive coverage to be provided indirectly by the health insurer, rather than directly by the college, along the lines of the proposed compromise for faith-based employers.

Self-funded plans, like those at many large research institutions, are regulated by state laws, so HHS has no jurisdiction over them. It is possible that colleges and universities that object to the contraceptive coverage requirement may reevaluate the conditions for being considered a self-funded plan and, therefore, exempt from the final regulations.

For additional details on issues like international students, insurance exchanges, annual dollar limits, and items of particular importance to insurers, click the final regulations link above. Many private colleges are indicating that students covered by SHIPs can expect a significant increase in insurance premiums