Healthcare sign-up now open, offers new help

By MARIANA CEJA

Pima Community College is pitching in to spread the word about the importance of getting insurance and where to go to get help signing up.

Pima hosted a resource event at Downtown Campus on Nov. 18 alongside members of the Department of Health and Human Resources as well as the Cover Arizona Coalition and Arizona Public Interest Research groups.

“I am proud to be able to say that Pima is doing its part to make sure that we educate students about their options under the new health care law,” said PCC Chancellor Lee Lambert.

The event focused on informing students of new options as well as where to get financial aid.

“The message today is clear, health insurance is now, it’s affordable and we are here to help,” said Diane Brown, executive director of the Arizona PIRG education fund.

The enrollment period for health insurance is only three months instead of six, from Nov. 15 to Feb 15, which means less time for people to get enrolled.

“We are going to be on the campuses, on the airwaves, and in the community,” said Kenneth Shapiro, interim regional director for the Health and Human Services Department.

“We are going to be accessible to all Arizonans who need to take advantage of the Affordable Care Act,” he added.

Young adults were among the largest group to sign up for insurance when the government Marketplace website opened last year.

“Out of 120,000 people who signed up for health insurance in 2013 across the state, 25,000 were in the age group 18-34, which is the prime age for Pima students,” Lambert said.

Shapiro said changes had been made for this year’s enrollment period following problems with the website last year. He said the website was smoother and faster to navigate for both new and returning members.

Some of the resources offered include one-on-one assistance in several languages, enrollment weekend events, as well as phone and online assistance.

There are different plans available covering many services, including preventive care, maternity needs, behavioral health, rehabilitative services, prescription medications, and emergency rooms.

The government wants to ensure everyone who is eligible signs up for coverage.

“There is no more discrimination based on pre-existing conditions,” Shapiro said.

Anyone under the age of 26 is also able to stay on their parent’s insurance plans.

Ultimately, the goal of the event was to make sure students realize their options and why getting insurance is important.

“Whether an individual is looking to purchase health insurance for the first time or looking to switch to a new health insurance plan, it’s important for individuals to know their options and to know their rights,” Brown said.

“Individuals should make sure that they are getting the best bank for their buck which does not always means getting the cheaper premium cost, but maybe looking at what the deductable and co-pays are and balancing that against to what they have to pay each month,” she added.

For more information or assistance getting enrolled, visit coveraz.org, 211arizona.org, unitedwaytucson.org or heathcare.gov.

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From left, Alejandro DeLuna with Pima Community Access Program, Samantha Fierro with El Rio Community Health Center and Jason Donofrio with the Arizona PIRG Education Fund staff an information table. (Mariana Ceja/Aztec Press)

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