Obamacare Costing Hundreds of UND Graduate Students Their Health Insurance Next Week


Twamley hall University of North Dakota. Jesse Trelstad/ Grand Forks Herald Jonah Mostler

“Are you at all aware of what UND has had to do to its grad assistants’ healthcare plans thanks to Obamacare?” a UND student asked me a couple of weeks ago.

I wasn’t aware, but as it turns out hundreds of graduate students are losing coverage provided by the University of North Dakota, and Obamacare is most certainly the culprit.

The university first announced the change back in May. “As you may know, due to provisions in the Affordable Care Act, the university is no longer allowed to pay for graduate assistant health insurance. Instead, graduate assistants are required to obtain their own health insurance,” the university announced in an online posting.

My student source told me the cut off date for his plan is August 15.

When I contacted UND spokesman Peter Johnson to get details about the scope of this drop in coverage, he told me “347 graduate students were covered by Graduate Health Insurance during spring semester 2016.”

He added that the university had not reduced or eliminated insurance coverage in any other area due to Obamacare, and that UND signed a memorandum of understanding with Altru Health System allowing them to help students find new coverage.

“We also instituted a ‘student healthcare marketplace’ online that is available through the UND website where all students can ‘shop’ for insurance to meet their needs,” Johnson told me.  You can check that out here.

Wondering if there was a similar impact at the state’s other campuses I contacted the North Dakota University System office. “Only UND offered coverage directly, so only they have been effected by the ACA change,” spokeswoman Billie Jo Lorius told me. “There has not been an equivalent impact on other campuses.”

Still, over 300 graduate students losing their coverage is a big deal, though it seems clear that UND has done everything they could to give those students a soft landing.

Just another blow to that whole “If you like your health care plan, you’ll be able to keep your health care plan” thing.