Affordable Care Act may change student insurance

Hang on for a minute...we're trying to find some more stories you might like.


Email This Story






By Lucas Wimmer

 

The Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, has been the center of controversy at the national level, including its role as the central issue in the government shutdown.

Despite this controversy, the Affordable Care Act will have an impact on UW-Whitewater students. Richard Jazdzewski

The big changes will be the ones that impact the students who are currently uninsured, said Richard Jazdzewski, executive director of UW-Whitewater University Health and Counseling Services.

“The good news is that, as the title implies, students will have access to health insurance, whereas, in the past, they might not have due to cost,” said Ruth Swisher, director of health at UW-Whitewater University Health and Counseling Services.

The national average of college students who are uninsured is usually around 10 to 20 percent, Jazdzewski said.

On Oct. 1, the new marketplace opened up through the Affordable Care Act, where uninsured people, including students, can purchase different plans that cater to their individual needs.

People enrolling in these plans can be eligible for government subsidies and tax rebates through their specific plan, Jazdzewski said.

The different plans people can choose from range in coverage, so people can choose which plan suits them best.

For example, students who are under the age of 30 can get a catastrophic plan, which is a plan with a high deductible that will protect against a large amount of debt in the case of a serious medical emergency but may not cover as much of the routine medical procedures, Jazdzewski said.Ruth Swisher

“What’s going to be the most affordable will also offer the least amount of services,” Swisher said.

Jazdzewski said he encourages students to talk to who they are getting their insurance through and talk their plans through with them. This will prevent any confusion about what their plan covers.

Students who are currently insured will see some changes in their insurance as well, but they will not be as big of changes as an uninsured person will experience, Jazdzewski said.

Students can now remain on their parents’ health insurance plan until the age of 26, and there will be more coverage for preventative care, as well as a removal on the limit to lifetime benefits.

Also, insurance providers will no longer be able to deny insurance due to preexisting conditions.

“If a student has asthma, if they have cardiology issues or diabetes, anything that would have kept a health insurance company from covering them, they will no longer be excluded from getting insurance,” Swisher said.

Beginning Jan. 1, 2014, everyone will be required to be insured. The penalty for not having insurance will be $95 for an adult and $47.50 for a child.

UW-Whitewater will attempt to assist students with their transition in a few ways.

One way is to present a video, developed by the Kaiser Family Foundation, to the students that helps explain the Affordable Care Act.

The University of Wisconsin system also will have an insurance broker distribute information to students, including a flyer describing the changes that will occur and giving contact information of healthcare specialists, Swisher said.

This information also will include a six-page document of frequently asked questions and their answers, Swisher said.

For the past few years, a voluntary student insurance plan has been available through UW-Whitewater to students who did not have insurance coverage. The changes in health care may make this plan too expensive for insurance companies to bid on, Swisher said.

One option other than the voluntary student insurance plan and the marketplace that may be available in the future for students is the hard waiver plan, Jazdzewski said.

The hard waiver plan would create an option for students to purchase a health insurance plan through the UW system.

This plan would only cover college students, which would create a low-risk pool of applicants and create a lower cost for their plans, Jazdzewski said.

“If you think about insurance as a way of mitigating risk, would you rather be grouped with just college-aged students or everyone from birth to the end of their adult life?” Jazdzewski said.

This plan is still in its developing stages, Swisher said.

These changes in health care coverage will not change what University Health and Counseling Services are able to do, Jazdzewski said.

Individuals who have any more questions or would like further information regarding student health insurances plans contact [email protected] or call 262 472-1300.