You are viewing this article in the archives. For the latest breaking news and updates in Ann Arbor and the surrounding area, see
Posted on Tue, Nov 8, 2011 : 5:59 a.m.

U-M officials hope to see decline in uninsured students this year

By Kellie Woodhouse

Health Service Director Robert Winfield expects to see a decrease in uninsured University of Michigan students after the results of campuswide survey are in.


The University of Michigan expects to see more insured students this year.

Grand Rapids Press


The Affordable Care Act has been in effect for a full year now.

College students at U-M and across the nation have been taking advantage of new law, which has allowed young adults under the age 26 to remain on their parents' health insurance plans since Sept. 23, 2010.

A recent report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that the number of uninsured people between 19 and 25 has decreased from 10 million in the first quarter of 2010 to 9.1 million this year. A recent Gallup poll confirms that about 4 percent of young adults between 18 and 25 have picked up insurance since the change.

"My prediction is that we're going to see a significant drop in the uninsured," Winfield said. "We will get a fairly good sense of the impact of the law."

The Health Service will distribute the survey to U-M students electronically by Nov. 23. About 25 percent of U-M's student body responds, Winfield said. Results are expected by early January.

Winfield said the act will likely have the largest effect on graduate students. Prior to the act, most health insurance providers allowed young adults in college to stay on their parents plan during their first four years of undergraduate studies.

In 2009, when the Health Service last conducted the survey, it found that 6.9 percent of undergraduates in were uninsured and 9.2 percent of graduate students were uninsured.

A 2005 survey concluded that 5.6 percent of undergraduates were uninsured and 10.5 percent of graduate student were uninsured.

Nationwide, young adults comprise a disproportionate amount of the uninsured.

That's primarily due to two reasons, Winfield said.

Reason one: perceived invincibility.

"Young adults think they're invincible and, in general, they don't have serious life health events, like cancer," Winfield said. "They're accustomed to being healthy and of course they don't think about having an accident or getting a lymphoma."

Reason two: Healthcare is expensive.

The university offers health insurance for students at a cost of $2,813 a year.

"If you're not employed ... it's a fairly substantial amount of money," Winfield said.

U-M student Christie Bieber is among the uninsured, but plans to go on her father's plan soon. Bieber graduated from U-M last year and is taking prerequisite courses at U-M as she applies to dental schools. She was on her father's insurance, but lost health care after her father got laid off almost a year ago.

Last month, however, her father found a job in Canton, and Bieber plans to once again affiliate with his health insurance plan. Bieber says that without the new provision, she'd likely be without health insurance throughout dental school because she can't afford the high cost of a plan not subsidized by an employer.

"These days people are in school for so long and it just consumes so much of our time and energy, so it's just good to know you can still be helped out," she said.

Sidney Kelpin, a junior neuroscience major at U-M, also plans to go to dental school after graduation. During that time, she'll remain on her parents plan, she said.

"It's just one less thing that I have to worry about," she said. "To have to pay for my own schooling at grad school and have to deal with health insurance ... is a lot."

Without the provision, Keplin said she would have to add the cost of a school-provided insurance plan to her loans, further inflating her debt.

Laurie Burchett, U-M student insurance manager, said the Health Service is already seeing the effects of the policy change.

Fewer students are signing up for U-M's plan because they're staying on their parents' plans.

In 2010, the first year the change went into effect, 1,554 students took advantage of U-M's insurance plan. That's 80 students fewer than the year before.

And this year shows further change.

By Sept. 30, 2010, 1,233 students had signed up for U-M insurance. By that time this year, 1,064 students had signed up. That's a 169-person difference.

However, uninsured students remain an issue.

"We do see a lot of students in our office every day who have medical bills and need medical assistance and don't have any insurance," Burchett said.

But the extent of the issue —and whether it's decreasing with national trends— remains to be seen.

Kellie Woodhouse covers higher education for Reach her at or 734-623-4602 and follow her on twitter.



Tue, Nov 8, 2011 : 7:11 p.m.

Yet another Appeals Court upheld the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act, "Obamacare", today. The majority opinion was written by a Ronald Reagan appointee. This marks the fifth appeals court to uphold the Act, compared to only one that has not upheld it.


Tue, Nov 8, 2011 : 6:32 p.m.

The fact that these young people can remain on their parents' insurance plans is a good thing. What about the SIGNIFICANT number of parents who cannot afford health insurance?


Tue, Nov 8, 2011 : 7:30 p.m.

One can only hope.


Tue, Nov 8, 2011 : 7:09 p.m.

Perhaps they will when Obamacare is fully implemented in 2014 and competitive healthcare exchanges become available.


Tue, Nov 8, 2011 : 4:21 p.m.

If you are going to go to single payer you need to do away with having states controlling licensure of health care professionals ,and regulation of insurance companies. Good luck with getting rid of that revenue machine.


Tue, Nov 8, 2011 : 3:27 p.m.

Yes, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) will have to do until a single payer, universal health care policy is developed. Believe it or not, universal health care modeled after the VA medical system or even Medicare will eliminate a major cost to private businesses, both big and small, which now pay some part of their employees' health care premiums. Any other program to reduce employer contributions to health care premiums will only force many presently insured workers to join the uninsured. As the uninsured numbers climb the stress on medical care systems will lead to higher premiums for those maintaining insurance and financial stress for hospitals that can not collect for care provided. Already emergency rooms, which act as primary care providers to those without insurance, are closing due to noncollectable health care billings. Soon hospitals themselves will be unable to survive financially. As a retired VA physician I know that solutions exist but not with for profit HMOs and health care insurers.

5c0++ H4d13y

Tue, Nov 8, 2011 : 4:20 p.m.

While were at it let's make single payer food, shelter and clothing. There's no down side!


Tue, Nov 8, 2011 : 2:46 p.m.

Rob I'm not a teaparty person, but yes we the people will repeal this.


Tue, Nov 8, 2011 : 2:37 p.m.

Millions under 26 staying on their parents healthcare plans already positively benefitting from Obamacare, not to mention the seniors benefitting from a reduced drug donut hole in Part D, children's pre-existing condition barriers to healthcare being eliminated, healthcare maximums on our benefit plans being eliminated, preventive healthcare being required in health care plans, adults with pre-existing conditions can purchase plans after going without for six months, to name just a few ways Obamacare is being woven into healthcare day by day affecting millions and millions of people. Do the tea partiers think they can just repeal and take all of this away without absolute outrage?


Tue, Nov 8, 2011 : 3:08 p.m.

Well said.


Tue, Nov 8, 2011 : 2 p.m.

Where is the "Occupy Crowd" This is a bigger problem than Wall Street. "Reason two: Healthcare is expensive. The university offers health insurance for students at a cost of $2,813 a year."


Wed, Nov 9, 2011 : 1:02 a.m.

Unless it's much better insurance than they offered 10 years ago, it's nearly useless.


Tue, Nov 8, 2011 : 6:39 p.m.

You do not see how Wall Street and healthcare...and Big insurance, as well as Big Pharma?!....