Facing Obamacare: informing students

Emily Pagel

Enrollment ends Monday March 31, 2014 for all Americans to enroll and for many students it changes the way they deal with health care.

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) enrollment began late last year as the act was passed for all Americans to have affordable health care.

According to Michigan State Senator Debbie Stabenow, the ACA will benefit not only adults but students as well.

“The Affordable Care Act is benefiting students in many ways,” Stabenow said. “Young people are able to stay on their parents’ plans until they are 26, and when they’re no longer covered through their parents, they can purchase plans through the online marketplace that provide better care at a lower cost than many of the plans they could get before.”

According to Debbie Stabenow’s office, more than 75,500 people in Michigan have signed up through the health marketplace as of December 28, 2013. In Michigan, about 25 percent of the enrollees are ages 18 to 34. About 6,800 people or 6 percent are estimated to be traditional college age but there is no way of discerning if they are enrolled.

According to Stabenow there will be many health care benefits added for students that was previously unable to be covered with health insurance.

“Students are also now able to get free preventive care, and cannot be dropped from their plan if they get sick or denied coverage because of a preexisting condition. Young women will have access to maternity care,” Stabenow said. “Free preventive care like birth control and can no longer be charged higher premiums just because they’re a woman.”

One major thing the ACA does is allow students to stay on their parents’ plan to age 26.  No insurance company, whether you are on your parents’ plan or your own, can drop you because you get sick or can deny you from getting insurance if you have a preexisting condition.  Women can’t be charged more for being a woman like they were before the law.  And insurers have to provide access to free preventive care and checkups.

If students are on their parents’ plan they don’t need to do anything.  If they aren’t on a plan and they want to shop for brand-name, affordable healthcare plans, they can do that at healthcare.gov or through a call center. Some students will be eligible for Medicaid, which will also be determined at healthcare.gov or through the State.  Students should explore their coverage options as soon as possible, instead of waiting until the last minute.

Student Association of Michigan (SAM) President Douglas Boehm is working to inform college students across Michigan about their options for health care. SAM is an organization that represents 300,000 students. During the academic year, SAM joins with 15 major public universities across Michigan to help better students experiences during college.

“We had the idea to make an ACA presentation and research to give to each student governments and the Dean of Students for all Michigan colleges and universities,” Boehm said. “Right now its been processed by the legislative research committee.”

“It was kind of a big thing when it was finally passed and taking affect,” Boehm said. “SAM is all about helping students get through college the easiest way without jumping through hoops. So we thought it was important for students to know their health care options.”

“Making sure that students are informed. Many students don’t know that they can stay on their parents insurance until they’re 26 and so they don’t have to go out and purchase their own policy through the healthcare.gov.”

According to ASNMU President Amber Lopota,  ASNMU and the Student Association of Michigan (SAM) is working towards getting information to students about the ACA. While attending the last SAM conference Lopota said they are making progress.

“SAM is continuing to expand their work with the ACA and what their main goal is to bring the information to the students in a way that is easy to understand and easy to implement for their unique situation,” Lopota said.

Along with a presentation Lopota said SAM is working towards creating an information brochure that will be sent by mail to each registered college student.

“We’re putting together a brochure that is going to do basically just that,” Lopota said. “It’s going to be a flowchart ‘is this you if it is go to A if it isn’t go to B’ Its going to be very straight forward on how to navigate the marketplace and how to handle your situation because we have students who are all over the board from not traditional to first year freshman.”

According to Lopota the finalizations for the information brochure will be discussed during the February 7-9 conference.

“We’re kind of in the phase where its trial and error, ‘is this working? do you understand this? what would you do if you have this information in front of you, would you be motivated to make a move?’,” Lopota said. “Because a lot people are pretending that its just not happening and hoping that thats going to be okay and its not, its not going to be for any of us.”

“I encourage students to go to healthcare.gov to find out more about how to make sure they’re covered,” Stabenow said.