BYU-Idaho won’t accept Medicaid as health insurance

Posted at 11:47 AM, Nov 14, 2019
and last updated 2019-11-14 13:57:48-05

REXBURG, Idaho (AP) — An Idaho university has stopped accepting Medicaid as health insurance coverage, forcing full-time students to buy a university-backed plan.

Health plans at Brigham Young University-Idaho can be purchased for at least $81 a month for single students and up to $678 a month for a family, officials said.

A student form used to opt out of the school health plan was updated this month reflecting the change in policy, students said.

The university has declined multiple requests for comment.

Open enrollment for Medicaid expansion began Nov. 1.

Madison County, where the school is located, has the highest concentration of potential Medicaid expansion enrollees in the state, state health officials said.

Students contacting the health center were told by staff that they had been instructed not to give a reason for the change, the student newspaper Scroll reported Wednesday.

Students at the Rexburg campus have argued the plan is expensive, doesn’t provide adequate coverage and likely won’t be used.

“They don’t allow a lapse in coverage the whole time you have continuing student status,” senior student Kaycee Edralin told the Post Register.

Edralin and her husband will be covered by Medicaid when Medicaid expansion takes effect on Jan. 1, she said. But now she and her husband must get student health plans “for coverage we’re not going to be using.”

“It appears that the school is requiring its students as a condition of being a student to purchase something that has many of the hallmarks of health insurance, but really isn’t health insurance at all,” UCLA School of Law professor Jill Horwitz told Boise State Public Radio.

There is an annual cap on coverage with the student plan administered by Deseret Mutual Benefit Administrators, Horwitz said. Such limits, as well as lifetime coverage caps, were banned by the Affordable Care Act.

The administrator group was established by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and is not classified as an insurance company, so it does not have to comply with federal requirements, she said.