College students won’t get dropped from insurance for taking medical leave

President George W. Bush signed into law last Thursday a bill that would keep seriously ill college students on their parentsâÄô medical insurance plans, even if they have to drop to below full-time status. Under MichelleâÄôs Law, full-time college students whose insurance plans are through their parents are allowed to take up to 12 months medical leave and still be covered by insurance. Students wishing to take medical leave would need certification from their physician. The law will become effective starting Oct. 9, 2009, one year from enactment. The bill is named after New Hampshire resident and college student Michelle Morse, who after being diagnosed with colon cancer, was forced to maintain a full credit load in order to be treated under her parentsâÄô insurance plan. Morse died in November 2005. MorseâÄôs mother, Ann Marie, took the issue to the New Hampshire Legislature in 2006, where it was signed into law. American Cancer Society Associate Director of Federal Relations Keysha Brooks-Coley worked with members of Congress to get the bill passed on the federal level. Brooks-Coley and the ACS estimated that more than 2,800 U.S. college students could potentially benefit from the bill in 2008. âÄúThis is something that does happen to many college students across the country,âÄù Brooks-Coley said. âÄúThere clearly is need.âÄù It is yet to be seen just how much more insurance companies will have to pay as a result of the signing of MichelleâÄôs Law. The UniversityâÄôs Medical Industry Leadership Institute Academic Director Stephen Parente said insurance companies will be interested in knowing how many cases like MichelleâÄôs there will be, since premiums may increase. Regardless, the bill makes sense from a societal standpoint, Parente said. âÄúThe most productive citizens in the U.S. are college students going forward,âÄù Parente said. âÄúTo help them not get sick enough to lead to a case like MichelleâÄôs has to have great societal upside.âÄù Jessica Voight, president of the University American Medical Association Medical Student Section, said MichelleâÄôs Law aligns closely with the AMAâÄôs efforts over the past year. âÄúI thought it was unreasonable for a student to have to maintain full time status while receiving treatment for any type of illness,âÄù Voight said. âÄúIt just seems like youâÄôre compromising your education and your health.âÄù