By Melissa Renick
Student Life Editor
Obamacare’s goal is to give more Americans access to affordable, quality health insurance, and to reduce the growth in health care spending in the U.S. What does it mean for uninsured students?
Uninsured students may find themselves scrambling to find a quick health insurance plan by March 31. The Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, took effect back on January 1, 2014. Open enrollment began Oct. 1 and ends on March 31, 2014. If Americans without health insurance fail to sign up for a private health insurance company or Obamacare they will have to pay a penalty. The Affordable Care Act’s success is dependent on young people ages 18-35. According to Jake Horowitz, contributor and writer for Health Care 101, the penalty for being uninsured in 2014 is $95 per adult, or 1% of your household income, whichever is greater. That would be assessed on your 2014 tax return. The penalty goes up a small percentage each year after.
With minimal or no income, full-time students are likely to receive free coverage, which is the State Medicaid program. There is assistance available by trained navigators for students in the East Texas area at The Andrews Center located at 2323 W. Front Street in Tyler. Lisa Williams and Lauren Parlow are both trained navigators and are available to assist students with choosing the best healthcare options available. Students will need to call to schedule an appointment at the Andrews Center with one of the assistants. The phone number for scheduling an appointment is (903) 597-1351.
“We have one patient who is on one form of Obamacare, but a lot of doctor’s offices are not even accepting Obamacare in the area due to low reimbursement rates. We have a lot of clients that complain about the monthly premiums and deductibles being extremely high,” Patti Boyd, an LVN at Trinity Clinic in Tyler said.
The reason that the ACA’s success is dependent on young people ages 18-35 is because they are generally more healthy rarely rack up expensive medical bills. The White House is counting on at least 2.7 million young Americans to sign up for health insurance to offset the cost of the Affordable Care Act. The Obama administration said more than 5 million people have signed up for private health insurance under the new healthcare law. That still leaves about 1 million to go over the next two weeks for the White House to meet its latest goal of 6 million enrolled by March 31.
“I use the clinic on campus here at TJC, so I am not too concerned about signing up this year,” Lorianne Hubbard, an art major at TJC said. “I’m still living at home so it’s not a priority just yet. I don’t know if I will because I’m not really an Obama supporter so we will see.”
There are websites available online that offer various options for students. Healthcare.gov and GetInsured.com are both online sources to find out which health insurance students qualify for. Students will be asked to insert their zip code into the search bar and answer a few basic questions (tobacco use etc.). A few health insurance options will pop up right on the screen to choose from.
“I would be willing to meet with a group of uninsured students on the TJC campus to get them up to date on their options for health care. We could meet anywhere I can get a wi-fi signal. If students would like to get a group together to meet at the library and apply through my assistance, I could do that at anytime or any evening before the deadline,” Lisa Williams, a navigator through the Andrews Center in Tyler said.
Veterans also need to consider their healthcare options. To help with that, the VA of North Texas’ public affairs office has set up an enrollment fair at each North and East Texas VA on March 28.
The Tyler VA office is located at 3414 Golden Road, Tyler, Texas 75701.
With less than a week from the March 31 extension, some people will be given a special enrollment period, beyond the March 31 deadline, if they can show they were not able to enroll due to errors by the Department of Health and Human Services. Mid-April is now the deadline.
For any further questions contact The Andrews Center at (903) 597-1351. Contact Lisa Williams to receive navigator services at (903) 571-6126.