December 21, 2013

Letter to the editor: ACA’s policy on loan debt excludes graduate student

As a graduate student, I’m required to have health insurance, and since I’m financing my education with student loans, this cost is becoming part of my student loan debt.

When I attempted to register for an Affordable Care Act plan, my student loan income was already considered debt and rendered me ineligible for the ACA. This debt, if it were considered income, would have allowed me to take part in the ACA.

Both the World Health Organization and International Federation of Social Workers consider health to be a human right. The ACA policy and Maine’s decision not to expand Medicaid are in direct conflict with the stance and the mission of the WHO and social workers’ federation.

The ACA is a good thing, albeit it is the right to “affordable” insurance, not the right to health or free health care. It’s a step in the right direction.

Graduate students are one of many groups excluded. We have health insurance, but we’re paying substantially more for it through the university than we would through the ACA, and we’ll be paying interest on it through student loan payments in the years to come.

One of the goals of the ACA was to attract younger, healthier individuals to participate. The more young and healthy participants are encouraged to partake in the ACA program, the stronger it will be. This was a central tenet of the ACA’s initial rationale.

Beyond this, with all of the concern about nationally increasing student loan debt, allowing graduate students to take part in the ACA would make sense and would help take some pressure off student loan debt amounts.

My proposal is that graduate school loan income be considered income and not debt for the purpose of ACA health plan registration. It just makes sense.

Morgan Dorsey



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