Self-funded Student Health Benefit Plans and Minimum Essential Coverage

04/19/12. The American College Health Association (ACHA) has joined the American Council on Education (ACE), the Association of American Universities (AAU), and the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU) in a letter to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) asking for clarification about how self-funded student health benefit plans (SHBPs) may be recognized as providing “minimal essential coverage” under the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

The groups acknowledged that while HHS has no authority to regulate self-funded SHBPs because they are neither health insurance coverage nor group health plans, the HHS Secretary has been granted authority under the ACA to designate other types of coverage as minimum essential coverage which would satisfy the individual mandate. In the letter, the Secretary is urged to specify that “self-funded SHBPs which substantially comply with the required elements of ‘student health insurance coverage’ as defined in the final SHIP regulations are a form of ‘minimum essential health coverage.’” Benefit description documents from some institutions’ self-funded SHBPs were enclosed with the letter as examples.

ACHA will continue to keep you apprised as further developments ensue regarding the status of self-funded SHBPs under the ACA.