With the passage of the health care reform bill, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act beginning in September 2010, dependent students across the country will be allowed to stay on their parents health plan up to age 26.

According to CBS News, the healthcare bill will expand coverage to 32 million Americans who are currently uninsured. If you are over 26 and still attending college, immediately you may not benefit directly from the health care bill, but your parents will be allowed to carry your dependent siblings who are full-time students under 26.

What options do we, as mature students, have? The uninsured and self-employed would be able to purchase insurance through state-based exchanges with subsidies available to individuals and families with income between 133 percent and 400 percent of the poverty level. Separate exchanges would be created for small businesses to purchase coverage effective 2014, funding will be available to states to establish exchanges within one year of enactment and until Jan. 1, 2015.

Individuals and families who make between 100 percent and 400 percent of the Federal Poverty Level (FPL) which is $27,563, for a family of four and want to purchase their own health insurance on an exchange are eligible for subsidies. They cannot be eligible for Medicare, Medicaid and cannot be covered by an employer. Eligible buyers receive premium credits and there is a cap for how much they have to contribute to their premiums on a sliding scale.

At TJC, students are charged a health service fee of $30. Why not take advantage of it at the Rogers Student Center? There is a doctor on staff daily who is able to write prescriptions, and nurses who perform triage services. These services are offered to all students as long as they can produce a current TJC identification card. At other schools there are programs called S.H.I.P. (student health insurance plans) that provide health care coverage for full-fee paying students and their dependents, integrating campus primary care services with community specialty care, emergency services and hospitalization. At the University of Idaho some of the benefits of the program are reduced costs for many prescription medication for students, Psychiatric evaluations, medication management and limited counseling/referral.

At Boise State University Students enrolled are automatically enrolled in the university-sponsored Student Health Insurance Plan (SHIP), with the premium charge added to their tuition and fees. Students are eligible to purchase coverage for their spouse and/or for any dependent children under the age of 19 who reside with the student, for an additional charge.

This is not the first time the government has gotten in the business of healthcare. Older people complain about how they don’t want the government messing with their Medicare or Medicaid, well what do they think those programs are? Who do they think created these programs? What is it about free health care for children that the good ‘ole boys have a problem with? What is it about a child with a pre-existing condition that they feel shouldn’t be treated?

The argument that they will always have to pick up the cost is hypocritical. You don’t see us complaining about paying into Social Security that we will never see, but that’s another editorial.

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