Michigan State University's decision to require all freshman to have health insurance or join its plan has created a divide among students and lawmakers.
The House Appropriations Subcommittee on Higher Education and representatives from MSU will have a hearing on the issue on Wednesday at the Capitol in Lansing.
The state's largest public university is the first in the state to mandate health insurance, following other colleges across the country. University leaders say they are trying to offer students an option.
If freshmen don't prove they have health coverage by February 29 in an online form, they will be automatically enrolled in the university's coverage and charged for it, tacking on another cost to their tuition bill. The coverage will come out to an extra $1,500 for an academic year.
MSU leaders say they want to protect students by reducing the financial risks. So if they get sick or in an accident, they don't have to choose between their health and their education. Since announcement the requirement last fall, MSU has mailed a letter to students' hmoes, sent several emails to students, put signs up around campus, and explained the program during parent and student orientations.
Other public universities in Michigan offer coverage but don't require it.
State republicans are skeptical of the plan. State Rep. Kevin Cotter, R-Mt Pleasant, is investigating the mandate, but is unclear what the legislature can do about it. He calls the plan another burden on Michigan's working families.
“The new MSU mandate increases costs on students and families who must already find a way to pay for recent increases in tuition,” said Cotter, who requested the hearing. He added that there are still many unanswered questions surrounding the plan.
The federal Affordable Care Act allows children to stay on their parents' insurance plans until age 26.