Political Corner: Health Care Changes for College Students

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Changes to health care require action or there will be fees to pay. Photo by Sarah Hughes

dollar bill with a band-aid
Changes to health care require action or there will be fees to pay. Photo by Sarah Hughes

By Sarah Hughes
News Editor

Recent changes involving health care have many concerned and questioning, but information regarding the Affordable Care Act may look different depending on whether one is a student or the supporter of a large family.

Under the Affordable Care Act, everyone must enroll for health insurance or pay a fee as of Jan. 2014. The fee is scheduled to increase. The 2014 annual penalty is $95 for the individual, with up to a family maximum of $285 or 1 percent of the family income, whichever is greater. The 2016 annual penalty is extended to $695 for the individual, with up to a family maximum of $2,085 or 2.5 percent of the family income, whichever is greater. In three years time, that is a $600 increase for the individual without health insurance.

Though the pre-paid student health fee allows enrolled CSUSM students to receive free basic services for colds, physical exams, cryotherapy, biopsies, immunizations and other ailments, it is not health insurance.

“You do not need health insurance to utilize Student Health and Counseling Services. However, supplemental health insurance is strongly recommended . . . We strongly urge you to maintain health insurance,” Student Health and Counseling’s information on health insurance states.

The Student Health and Counseling Services page has links for applying for health insurance through CSUSM and information about it. If a student is covered by their parents’ insurance, they don’t need to get it through CSUSM. Covered CA lists the Affordable Care Act’s changes for customers as “more health insurance options,” “protection for consumers,” “fines for no coverage,” “affordable coverage and financial assistance,” “increased coverage” and “what businesses will need to do.”

“All health insurance plans (not counting most plans sold before March 10, 2010) must provide health insurance for individuals and their families even if someone has a health condition such as diabetes or asthma. That health insurance cannot be dropped if someone gets sick,” Covered CA said.

If one follows the CSUSM Student Health and Counseling Services health insurance page, they will see a list of available policies provided through Wells Fargo Insurance Services. The insurance options are based on whether a student is a U.S. Citizen, an International student or other options.

A domestic student who is a U.S. citizen can get health insurance through Anthem Blue Cross with a deductible of $250 per insured person, or $750 per family. The available student dental plan is $196 for the annual rate, covering Sept. 1, 2013 to Sept. 1, 2014. It is also run through Anthem Blue Cross.

Eligible enrollees for the domestic campus medical plan must meet certain requirements.

“Regularly matriculated students who are enrolled in nine or more credit hours or registered graduate students are eligible to enroll. All eligible students must have paid fees to the University, and be actively attending classes on main campus,” according to the Student Health Insurance Domestic Medical Plan flyer available through the Student Health and Counseling Services link.

If a student does not have insurance through a parent and can’t afford the campus policies, they may qualify for Medi-Cal.

“Covered California will help individuals and families determine whether they may get federal financial assistance that will cut the cost of health insurance or whether they qualify for free health insurance through Medi-Cal,” Covered CA said.

Insurance plans are prohibited from placing lifetime limits on coverage. Other changes seem aimed to help students obtaining insurance through school plans.

“If you are on a school plan and undergo a severe medical issue, you’ll be covered no matter how high your medical costs are,” USA Today reported.

Changes to health care are numerous, but whether a family’s breadwinner or an individual, it’s clear the affordable care act means all students and adults must enroll in health insurance before March 31 or face penalty fees.

The Cougar Chronicle The independent student news site of California