JOHNSTOWN - Proposed regulations by the Department of Health and Human Services would afford students enrolled in college or university health plans the same protections as listed in the Affordable Care Act - a measure that could send the cost of campus health plans soaring and force Fulton-Montgomery Community College to eliminate its plan.
FMCC currently offers student accident and sickness insurance for $50 per semester. The insurance is mandatory for students taking seven or more credits.
But college officials said under the proposed regulations, the cost of FMCC's student plan would skyrocket to $3,500 per academic year - more than tuition for a state student.
"I understand what they're trying to do," college President Dustin Swanger said. But for health care to cost more than tuition "just knocks it out of the park."
He said if regulations are adopted, the college would not offer a plan, Swanger said.
The current plan provides coverage for doctor visits, prescriptions and emergency care.
Announced on Feb. 9, the proposed regulation would require campus health plans to not have lifetime limits and wouldn't allow coverage to be dropped for sick students or denied to students younger than 19 with pre-existing conditions.
"Today, some student health plans only offer limited benefits with low annual dollar limits of health care, or have limited networks of doctors and other health care providers. For many students, these health plans are their only health insurance option," according to a news release from the Department of Health and Human Services.
Under the proposed rule, student health plans would be required to offer annual dollar limits on "essential health benefits" of no less than $100,000 for policy years that begin before Sept. 23, 2012.
The Department of Health and Human Services also says the new rule enforces transparency by requiring insurance companies to clearly explain how their plans meet the new requirements of the Affordable Care Act.
Swanger said he has been in contact with the office of U.S. Rep. Paul Tonko, D-Amsterdam, about the college's concerns about how the regulations will affect the cost of the student health plan.
Swanger said he was unsure when the college will hear whether the regulations will be enacted.
Amanda Whistle can be reached at gloversville @leaderherald.com.