Bill to exempt college students from health insurance requirement advances

TRENTON – The Senate Higher Education Committee released a bill that would eliminate the requirement for full-time students attending a center of higher education to have health insurance.

Sen. Robert Singer, (R-30), of Lakewood, raised questions about a previous move in the  Assembly  to treat four-year school students differently from two-year school students.

Singer said the “confusion” some Assembly lawmakers have is the belief that low-income students only attend community colleges.

“It’s just a misnomer,” he said. “The Assembly didn’t understand it.”

He said the bill will serve as an “important incentive” to get students of limited means to be able to attend the schools they want without the added burden of a health insurance mandate.

But one lobbyist challenged that perception.

Michael Klein of the N.J. Association of Independent Colleges said that in discussions he’s had with college officials, he said the likelihood is that colleges will adopt a “campus policy” which would basically mandate college students have a health care plan.

That’s because with the smaller pool of students choosing to buy health insurance, there wouldn’t be as much money coming in. And the ones who are probably buying it would tend to be high-risk policyholders, which means higher costs, he said.

He suggested that the statutory mandate that colleges provide a health insurance plan be taken out.

But Singer and Sen. Sandra Cunningham, (D-31), Jersey City, said that contingency would need to be discussed with the Department of Banking and Insurance.

Sen. Nellie Pou, (D-35), of North Haledon, was puzzled with that possibility.

“That puts in question further what we’re trying to address,” she said. “I am somewhat perplexed by today’s conversation.”

But Singer questioned the higher education centers’ ability to do that.

“I don’t know if they have the right to supersede the will of the Legislature,” he said.

The bill was released unanimously.

A related bill was tabled.

 

Bill to exempt college students from health insurance requirement advances