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USF wrong to mandate insurance

Efforts are under way to require all incoming, full-time USF students to have health insurance in order to enroll and avoid holds on their registration.

If successful, the requirement would go into effect in fall 2012. Students have a chance to voice their opinion during Student Government elections in February, when the issue will appear on the ballot.

Although it’s comforting that USF leadership is concerned about students’ ability to access and pay for health care coverage, the efforts are unnecessary and should not fall under the responsibilities of the University’s leadership.

USF should not push to require its students to carry health insurance.

While they have good intentions, proponents of the requirement hope it will reduce insurance costs and prevent the possibility that a student would be unable to pay for medical treatment when necessary. Currently, 11,067 USF students are uninsured, according to a Student Health Services (SHS) flier.

Cost would not be an issue, supporters contend, because it would be part of students’ cost of attendance and financial aid awards, and as more students pool their coverage together, it would be cheaper for everyone.

It’s naive and idealistic to hope that costs will be significantly reduced. The 75 percent of students who have insurance use a wide variety of companies and, since USF won’t require students to use a single company, pooling will be minimal in its impact.

On a larger scale, the addition of more than 11,000 policyholders will not lower the cost of health insurance for the rest of Florida’s 18 million residents, especially since they too use multiple companies.

Despite this, the changes will still have real effects.

Hard working high school students could be refused admission or the ability to register for class because they are unable to obtain insurance.

College acceptance is based on a number of factors, including SAT and ACT scores, extracurricular activities, grades and family history at different institutions.

Health insurance coverage should not be added to this list because, unlike other requirements, it has nothing to do with a person’s character or value to the University.

Most likely agree that health insurance is important for everyone, but many can’t get coverage or afford premiums.

USF admits in a SHS flier the move would unfairly target low-income minorities who can’t afford insurance, adding another worry to their lives as they attempt to move up the socioeconomic ladder.

Even with the assistance of additional financial aid, there’s a possibility a student could still fail to pay a premium and face a hold on their registration.

This extra obstacle would be unwarranted and burdensome in a time of economic strife.