College students falling in health care gap

By DANA BOYD

Numerous college students fall into a gap when it comes to the new Affordable Care Act.

While students under 26 will still be covered by their parents’ insurance provider under the new law, others are not covered and don’t work the minimum number of hours to receive coverage from an employer.

This leaves college students scrambling to find insurance before the March 2014 deadline or face fines for not having health care.

Pima Community College student Tris Gordon is an example of a student falling into the health care gap.

Gordon goes to school full time and doesn’t work enough hours at her job as a waitress to benefit from her employers’ insurance plan.

“I already know I’m screwed,” Gordon said about the penalty for not having insurance. “I know they’ll have to take it out of my tax deductible.”

A study by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics showed that 31.8 percent of traditional-aged full-time undergraduate students also worked part time. Employers are not required to offer health care to part-time workers.

So what happens for students who are ineligible for their parent’s or employer’s insurance?

PCC has set up a health insurance information page to help students navigate through decisions they will need to make when picking out an appropriate health care plan.

The link is http://arizonapirgedfund.org/resources/azf/so-you-need-health-insurance-now-what.

Arizona Public Interest Group, a health and safety consumer group, has set up an informational website at arizonapirg.org.

“Having the facts can make all the difference when it comes to health insurance,” a statement on the site says. “To make the most of new choices, protections and financial help, you need good information.”

Many other groups are also urging uninsured young Americans to visit a Health Insurance Marketplace, and follow its steps to gaining affordable healthcare.

The Young Invincibles strives for a “healthy, young America.”  A statement on its website says, “Although young people are often healthy, they do need medical care for preventative treatment, regular check-ups and occasional health hiccups.”

“Thankfully, the Affordable Care Act promises to make health care affordable and accessible to young adults across the country,” it says.

Insurance can be purchased at a marketplace through March 31, 2014.

FYI

To keep from falling into the health care gap, Arizona PIRG suggests taking seven steps to affordable, understandable insurance coverage:

1) Find out what will be covered.

2) Find out if you are eligible for financial help.

3) Calculate how much it will cost.

4) Compare insurance plans side-by-side.

5) Look at the different health care providers you can see.

6) Look up the quality of coverage you would be getting.

7) Get help from an expert when signing up.

For more information or to sign up for coverage, visit one of these sites:

  • healthcare.gov
  • health.younginvincibles.org/consumers
  • arizonapirgedfund.org/resources/azf/so-you-need-health-insurance-now-what

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