There was another crucial judicial ruling issued the last week of June. MSU President Lou Anna K. Simon chose to lift the mandate that required students to purchase health insurance. But did it go far enough?
According to the highest court in the land, led by Chief Justice John Roberts, the federal government possesses the authority to impose an invasive tax upon Americans. Still opinion polls suggest a majority of Americans disapprove of Obama Care. The upcoming presidential and congressional elections should clear the political murkiness surrounding this landmark ruling.
President Simon, who once thought that the nation’s ninth largest campus ought to concern itself with the medical insurance market, announced the sudden reversal just days before the landmark Supreme Court decision. This past February, the administration heavily defended the measure in the legislature. Despite vast public outcry, the State News reports Simon instead claiming that MSU does “not have a relationship with a hospital that would permit” coverage.
Interestingly, the Spartan-style command was implemented in a round-about fashion. Not only was the will of the student body ignored, but so was the Board of Trustees. The call single-handedly belonged to President Simon.
On behalf of the greater Michigan State community, congratulations to the concerned citizens are in order. Without the people’s persistent pushback, the tax for remaining uninsured would have stayed. The State News editorial board is deserving of recognition as well. Beginning early in the spring, articles were published citing the mandate’s inherent detriments, namely that students, beginning with the freshman class of 2015, had to hand over their insurance information or be charged a $1,505 fee annually. In this era of ever rising tuition and incidentals, Spartans cannot afford yet another bloated bill.
All signs indicate that we ought to rethink the role of health insurance. From the perspective of a young person, health care, like other services, is a privilege: one that most Millennials can comfortably live without. What is the point in being forced to pay for an unused service? Why should minor visits to the doctor, such as for annual check-ups, count in similar regard to very serious heart bypass surgery? Quite simply, they should not. Real free-market reform is desperately needed.
Some folks may not have the means to cover a health plan. However – the widespread, structural inefficiency notwithstanding – there are plenty of taxpayer-funded programs, i.e. Medicaid, available for those plagued by ballooned prices.
But like it or not, welfare handouts incentivize laziness over the long term. Fortunately for us, after the streamline of a truly competitive market, costs will inevitably drop. More options and improved amenities will sprout. All will be better off and able to support themselves.
Hopefully in the next Congress, Obama Care will be erased from the extensive labyrinth that is the federal regulatory code. Empirically the university does not belong in the health insurance sector. Students ought to make their own decisions.
And the story continues
The student insurance mandate is gone for good, right? Not quite. Based on the number of students and amount charged, the University collected nearly half-a-million dollars – $481,600 – by assessing the accounts of 320 freshmen last spring (The Detroit News). Short of evidence to the contrary MSU made out like bandits, at the expense of its own pupils. President Simon ought to return the funds to their rightful owners immediately.
The administration has some explaining to do. Why should students have had to pay for less than four months’ worth of supposed coverage? Where did the money go? It definitely did not go toward preventing a tuition hike, as in-state students can expect a $420 increase. We deserve answers.
In reversing her previous stance, President Simon says now that “[a]ll students are required to fill out the form and they may check a box that indicates that they do not want and understand the risk of not having insurance.” While there is a belief that young adults are incapable of making real-world choices on their own, the new policy path benefits the student body writ large. Health care is a matter to be discussed between patient and doctor, if at all. (As Americans we do not make positive rights claims. That is up to our European counterparts.)
By acknowledging that a mistake had been made, Simon acted accordingly. However, if the large sum of money forcefully taken from students last spring is not given back, the metaphorical glass shall stay half-filled. The administration lacks justification for profiting from the clearly wrong-headed trial.
If you think MSU should repay cash-strapped students, send a message their way today.
President Simon, thank you for revoking the absurd mandate – now return the loot pilfered from young scholars. Spartans will not stand for this blatant power grab. Do the right thing.
Nick Kowalski | Michigan State University | @NKowalski