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Brigham Young University (BYU) in Idaho retracted its Medicaid insurance ban after student uproar.
The BYU, like other schools in the United States, requires students to have health insurance first before enrolling in classes. For years, the school has accepted Medicaid, a government program that provides free or low-cost health insurance to people with very low income.
However, in November, the BYU announced that students who use Medicaid as their primary health insurance will no longer be allowed to enroll in the university. Instead, students will have to buy another health insurance or get a university-endorsed health plan that costs $536 per semester for single students and $2,130 for those enrolling with their family. This angered students, and many considered dropping out because they could not afford private health insurance.
The BYU did not thoroughly explain why it had decided to ban Medicaid as a school health insurance. In a statement, however, the university said that the decision was made in anticipation of Medicaid’s expansion in Idaho. The expansion would allow 70,000 low-income residents, including college students, to sign up for the program. The school assumed that the local medical community, clinics, and hospitals will be burdened by the surge in Medicaid users.
In response to the BYU’s statement, medical practitioners and institutions in the area expressed disagreement with the university’s explanation. They said that they were not communicating with the BYU when the university made its claim. One hospital said that it can accommodate the increase in Medicaid patients, while another said that it does not mind the increase in patients as the surge can boost its business.