Health reform affects students directly

Alex Belz

For months, the health care discussion has raged across the nation. The debate has been inescapable. Every small update in the process sent shockwaves across the news media. Suddenly, the world seemed to be in a constant discussion of death panels, public options, children’s health care and Medicaid. The day the House of Representatives was scheduled to vote on this monumental bill, many students across campus were glued to their televisions watching C-SPAN on an unusually warm Sunday afternoon.

I’ve never really given much thought to health care for most of my life. Like many people my age, I’ve been on my parents’ insurance since I was a child, so it was never something I had to worry about. I have a heart condition, as well as some other medical issues, so having health insurance has always been a big help in dealing with those concerns. But last year I discovered I was fast approaching the cut-off date for staying on my father’s insurance, and I began to worry about what would happen when I would be without it.

Tom Cory/NW

I’m a senior graduating in May, then attending graduate school in the fall. Like many students, I’m trying to juggle working and going to school at the same time, as well as worrying about the future and trying to balance my checkbook. The health insurance issue was just another weight on my back and I wasn’t sure how I was going to afford health insurance with so much going on.

Then, I learned that of all the different age groups affected by this legislation. College-aged people may have the most to gain. Among the 2,409 page document produced from all the revisions and debate during the past several months, stipulations were put into place that increased the age that dependents can stay on their parent’s health insurance to 26.

While I personally think that the health care bill is not enough to help everyone in the United States, I can’t argue with benefits to my own life. I never thought this health care bill would impact me so directly. Though I follow the news pretty closely, I’ve been hearing more about death panels, public options and high-risk groups these past few months than what the health care bill actually contains. I’d also heard about government subsidies that would be offered to people who were below a certain tax level, and I suppose I’ve vaguely thought that eventually I might take advantage of that. But extending the age dependents can stay on their parents’ health insurance benefits me immediately.

This change doesn’t only help current college students like myself. It’ll also help recent unemployed college graduates or graduates who have jobs that don’t offer health plans. This new stipulation on the age of how old dependents can be and still remain on their parents’ health insurance will go into effect later this year.

Benefits to college age people don’t stop there. Those subsidies I mentioned before are actually really beneficial. In 2014, current college students may be eligible for government subsidies to help pay for private insurance, as long as they’re making below $43,390. This will help current college aged people deal with the immense cost of health care as they struggle to go out and create a career for themselves in the real world. According to US News, currently 34 percent of college graduates remain uninsured during their first 12 months after graduation.

Whatever students may think about the new health care reform, they should know that it directly affects them. I don’t think there has been a piece of legislation during my lifetime which has benefited me such a substantial amount. And, in a country facing hard economic times, in a state with a dwindling job market, health care is one less thing students like me have to worry about.