ACA Has Little Impact on University Health Plan Enrollment

Now that the extended March 31 deadline to enroll in a health care plan through the Affordable Care Act has passed, administrators at University Health Services say that the law has had a limited impact on the number of students enrolled in the Student Health Insurance Plan and on the details of Harvard’s student health care coverage.

“There has been minimal change in the number of students who waived the Harvard Student Health Insurance Plan for Spring 2014,” Director of HUHS Paul J. Barreira wrote in an email to The Crimson. In October, UHS advised Harvard students to carefully consider any new plans before switching coverage.

Barreira noted in his email that since UHS does not ask for the reason why a student elects to waive the Student Health Insurance Plan, it is difficult to know how the Affordable Care Act impacted that decision.

According to Barreira, approximately 60 percent of all College students waived the Student Health Insurance Plan for 2013-2014 year. In order to be granted a waiver, a student’s non-Harvard insurance must meet Massachusetts’ “comparable coverage” requirement which, he added, not all plans purchased on the exchanges established by the ACA meet.

Barreira wrote that the ACA did not cause any changes to the details of the coverage offered by Harvard’s student health care plan, or to the services offered at UHS this year. He added that UHS continues to actively monitoring any regulation changes Massachusetts might make in response to the ACA.

“[Harvard University Student Health Program] has been active in its efforts to educate students and school administrators about the potential impact of the ACA and the new opportunities it presents,” Barreira wrote, citing communication efforts about the ACA by UHS on its website, posters, letters, and emails. “While HUHS strives to keep students informed, coverage decisions must be made by each student individually.”

—Staff writer Quynh-Nhu Le can be reached at


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