Section 18. Every full-time and part-time student enrolled in a public or independent institution of higher learning located in the commonwealth shall participate in a qualifying student health insurance program. For the purposes of this section, ''part-time student'' shall mean a student participating in at least 75 per cent of the full-time curriculum. Such an institution may allow students to waive participation in its student health insurance program or any part thereof; provided, however, that such an institution shall require students waiving participation to certify in writing prior to any academic year in which the student will not participate in the institution's plan that such student is a participant in a health insurance program providing comparable coverage; and provided further, that such institution shall allow students to waive participation in its student health insurance program if the student is currently enrolled in MassHealth, the student continues to meet all relevant MassHealth eligibility criteria under state and federal law and: (i) the student has been enrolled in MassHealth for at least 1 year prior to becoming eligible for the institution's student health insurance program or (ii) the student has been enrolled in MassHealth for at least 6 months and the student provides documentation, as required by the commonwealth health insurance connector in consultation with MassHealth, that participation in the qualifying student health insurance program would be financially prohibitive.
Each public and independent institution of higher education shall submit an annual report to the commonwealth health insurance connector detailing its procedures for complying with the provisions of this section; provided, however, that prior to the implementation of this section the division of health care finance and policy and the council shall submit a report to the house and senate committees on ways and means. Such a report shall include, but not be limited to, an analysis of the number of students lacking health insurance, the costs of the requirements of this section to the students and the public and independent institutions of higher education, and a proposed method for meeting such costs.
Any public or independent institution of higher learning failing to carry out its responsibilities under this section shall pay a penalty per student for every day during which the failure continues, equal to the penalty per employee per day imposed upon noncomplying employers by subsection (i) of section fourteen G of chapter one hundred and fifty-one A. Any penalties collected pursuant to this section shall be deposited in the public responsibility account of the medical security trust fund established by chapter one hundred and eighteen F. Any institution which, in accordance with regulations promulgated pursuant to this section, relies in good faith on statements by students relative to their health insurance status shall not be liable for any penalty or for failure to comply with the provisions of this section caused by misstatements of such students.
The commonwealth health insurance connector, with the advice and consent of the council, shall issue regulations to define qualifying student health insurance programs, to establish procedures to monitor compliance, and to implement the provisions of this section.