Does Healthcare Reform Matter for Students?

rachel-rudermanWith the Health Insurance Exchanges rolling out this month, now’s as good a time as ever to explore the implications health care reform and the Affordable Care Act have on us, as students. Although the ACA, “Obamacare,” has been widely discussed in the media, outside of the SPH I notice my friends don’t tend to talk about it much, or feel that it’s not something to worry about. While the ACA might not change your plans now, it does have really important implications for all students, especially after graduation. So, I decided to investigate and get to the bottom of what it really means for us, and how we can get informed.

Believe it or not, young adults value health insurance and want it. A Kaiser report found that though young adults have a vested interest in obtaining health insurance, 45% said they had heard nothing about health reform and 34% said that they had only heard a little. Closing this knowledge gap is an important imperative, then, to make sure that all students are on the same page with their options.

aca students

At the University of Michigan, specifically, students have a few options. We can sign up for University insurance, stay on our family insurance until age 26, or access insurance through the recently launched Michigan Marketplace.  Once students graduate, the University insurance option is no longer available, so it is in many students’ best interests to start exploring their options now.  An organization, Young Invincibles, has created an online FAQ for young people, as well as state-by-state  fact sheets in order to disseminate information on the important changes.

In a recent article exploring the implications of health reform for college students, Jennifer Mishory, deputy director at Young Invincibles, says students will be affected by the online marketplace in three significant ways:

“1. Students can enroll in plans without the threat of being denied coverage because of a pre-existing condition.

2. Students who earn less than about $46,000 or families that earn less than $94,000 annually may be able to access free coverage through Medicaid or discounted coverage through monthly tax credits depending on the state and their exact income level.

3. New plans will provide free preventive services, annual checkups, prescriptions and substance use disorder services.”

Regardless of whether you support the reform or not, it’s happening – and students deserve to be informed. So check out Michigan’s fact sheet, read up on Health Insurance 101, and explore the government’s website.  After all, knowledge is power!

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