It’s a medical chip that will be planted under your skin. It’s a cult that will keep a Big Brother watch over you. Death panels will be held to determine who gets to live and who dies.
These were just a few of the answers that New Yorkers came up with when journalist Alexandra Pelosi posed the question, “What do you know about Obamacare?”
New York is not the exception. All over the United States, people are wondering the true meaning of the Affordable Health Care Act (which, in an effort to avoid confusion, will also be referred to as “Obamacare” in this article.)
But the impact of the new health care reform implemented by the Obama administration can be difficult to determine, especially by college students who don’t keep up with the news and political hearsay passed back and forth between Democrats and Republicans, CNN and Fox News. If all you know about Obamacare is that it caused the government to shut down, you might want to take a chance to educate yourself before things get up and running again.
So without further ado, here is what the average college student in California can win, and lose, with the Affordable Health Care Act, otherwise known as Obamacare. In the state of California, it is known as Covered California.
“These are companies and businesses, insurances and hospitals who have created plans of which you can now buy into like shopping for anything in America. You now have the option of buying into different health care plans,” Las Positas College professor Paul Torres said.
It is important to know your income threshold and where it falls in the market, whether you are still at the age where you can rely on parents’ health insurance (up to 26 years of age) or are out on your own. According to a Kaiser Family Foundation Health Tracking Poll, about 75 percent of people between the ages of 18 and 25 believe that it is important for them to personally have health care insurance and that it is worth the cost. A slightly higher number of 80 percent, however, of those under 30 have heard next to nothing about the health care marketplace.
One thing that Obamacare has brought to the table is allowing students to shop around for their own health care — this saw its first effect on Oct. 1 when open enrollment in the marketplace began. There are a lot more options available now than before, depending on the type of financial situation the student is in and what kind of insurance he or she requires. This ranges from low-income to catastrophic insurance plans.
“What the Affordable Care Act requires is that every state is supposed to make health care available to the residents of their state through what are called compacts, so that if you don’t have health coverage, you can look up different available plans that the state of California has set up for you,” Torres said.
Another addition that Obamacare has brought to the health care system, though, may provide a smarter option to young adults whose parents have health insurance. Those under the age of 26 will be allowed to remain on their parents’ plans and opt out of Obamacare if they should choose to do so.
In fact, a study by David Hogberg for the National Center for Public Policy Research showed that more than 3.7 million young adults will be at least $500 per year better off if they choose to opt out and rely on their parents’ plans.
“Probably the most significant thing for college students to be aware of is that under the Affordable Care Act, students are now going to be allowed to stay under their parents’ care plans so that they will keep coverage while in college, which they didn’t have before,” Torres said.
At Las Positas College, it is important to remember that student health coverage provided by the Health & Wellness Center is only very basic. Getting on some kind of health insurance plan, parental or not, may be in the best interests of the average student.
Despite the benefits that Obamacare may present, as with any bill passed by any governmental body, there are both positives and negatives. Thus far the positives have been examined, but it is also vital to understand the negatives that can come with the same bill.
Firstly, the launch of the law’s signature website, Healthcare.gov has been plagued with problems. Due to the large amount of traffic generated by the millions who tried to log onto it — many had their efforts to sign up for coverage thwarted.
There are alternative methods for signing up, such as the state-run exchange websites like covereredca.com, health insurance company websites, paper or phone applications, contacting insurance agents or brokers or going directly to state medicaid offices.
Another negative that can come about, and has already come about with thousands of people in New Jersey and Alabama, according to the bill’s critics, is that your current health insurance plan could be in danger of being cancelled if it does not measure up with mandates laid out in the Affordable Healthcare Act. One mandate involves a rating structure that rates families by the number of people.
While new plans that are rolling in with the new federal bill may be satisfactory to those whose plans were cancelled, others fear that they may be more expensive for larger families.
Take, for instance, a family of four on an individual plan pre-Obamacare. They are paying $523 a month with BlueCross, but their plan is cancelled because it doesn’t match up with the bill’s mandates. After enrolling in a new plan, which will take effect on Jan. 1, their premium will go up to $1,100 a month — and all of a sudden, it’s not so affordable.
This real life situation occurred to a BlueCross customer in Alabama, and it is one of many. But according to Torres, this will not be the fate of the majority.
“It really will depend,” Torres said. “Someone’s going to have to pay more, but the majority are going to pay the same or less. Some people, because of the way the plan is structured, who have a significant income or significant coverage of their plan, may end up having to pay more.”
Another negative that critics of the bill have voiced regarding cost is that some people do not qualify for tax subsidies or any type of discounted coverage. Those that make more than $94,000 annually will feel the full brunt of healthcare costs, and with the possibly more expensive, newer plans, this could hurt. Others, however, will qualify for subsidies and will get them back come Tax Day.
“Some are going to have to pay more, but they’re going to get tax rebates. The plan is subsidized, so while they pay more, they’ll get that back in their tax income. Depending on where you fall economically depends on how much you’re going to have to pay,” Torres said.
Whichever side of the political spectrum you are on, one thing is certain — more coverage will be provided to those of a younger age, whether through flexible plans or parental plans, regardless of cost. For LPC students who are interested in shopping for plans in the open enrollment period between Oct. 1 and March 31, go to the Covered California website and see which plan works best for you and your financial situation.
For those interested in learning more, Assemblymember Joan Buchanan will be coming to LPC on Tuesday, Oct. 29 to explain the effects of Covered California on college students. Head to room 2420 at 5 p.m. to learn how to make health care insurance affordable for you.