EDITORIAL: UNLV’s health insurance rip-off

This year’s 4 percent increase in undergraduate registration fees is a heckuva deal for UNLV students when compared with the cost of school-sponsored health insurance.

As reported last week by the Review-Journal’s Steven Moore, the fall semester premium for the Student Health Insurance Plan for undergraduates nearly doubled to $1,945, up from $1,000. That’s almost as much as resident tuition and fees for a full-time, 12-credit course load (about $2,700).

That’s insane. So insane, in fact, that students don’t have to work especially hard to find a better deal, even in the age of Obamacare.

Denise Wright told Mr. Moore that after paying $700 to $800 per semester for health insurance through the student plan, she was able to purchase coverage through Nevada Health Link for about the same price for the fall semester. The state’s insurance marketplace has been called a lot of things in recent years — a technological boondoggle, a bureaucratic nightmare — but “affordable” hasn’t necessarily been one of them.

There’s a lot of irony in college students being subjected to such financial punishment as a result of Obamacare, which would not have become law if young voters had not so overwhelmingly supported Barack Obama and Democrats in the 2008 elections. American health care had affordability problems, but Obamacare, signed into law in 2010, made them worse. Young adults, who could easily find cheap, catastrophic medical coverage before the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act effectively banned it, became victims of a wealth distribution scheme that forces the young and healthy to subsidize the old and the sick.

And now, as more and more students struggle to finance their college educations and take on huge amounts of debt to do so, they must factor exploding health insurance costs into their cost-benefit analysis as well. For some of those not fortunate enough to be covered by their parents’ health insurance, which under Obamacare can provide them with insurance until they’re 26, it will be far cheaper to forgo insurance and pay a penalty tax.

For the entire left-leaning higher education industry, Obamacare is a lesson in being careful what you wish for.

But the larger issue here is why UNLV would feel compelled to offer a school-sponsored service that’s such an obvious rip-off. Instead of notifying the 150 students who get insurance through the Wells Fargo Insurance-Aetna plan of the premium increase — the small number of participants is a sure sign of a bad deal — UNLV should have fired Wells Fargo-Aetna and looked for a replacement vendor, or launched a campaign to educate students about more affordable options.

UNLV needs to do everything it can to stretch students’ dollars. Offering lousy, overpriced health insurance doesn’t help.

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