Editorial: Students should take advantage of the Affordable Care Act

On paper, it seems like a simple concept, but when it comes to politics it becomes a bit more sticky.

As of Oct. 1, the United States has tried their hand at that very concept, universal health care through the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.

With that implementation, has come many questions from families who want health care, yet do not know the proper procedures.

Luckily, California seems to be ahead of the curve when it comes to educating citizens on what options are available for them.

California has launched a comprehensive website known as Covered California, which compares plans for families, the individual and provides helpful resources.

While it is up to the individual to find out what is best for them, there are a few things that every college student should know.

First off, almost every person living the U.S. will be required to have health care, according to federal law. The open enrollment period is from Oct. 1 through March 31.

According to Covered California, “The Affordable Care Act will expand access to high-quality affordable insurance and health care.”

The website also goes on to say that the new law provides “financial help so almost all Americans can get high-quality health coverage at a fair price.”

While many American citizens will have to seek out a plan, some will be covered under their parents’ plans.

On March 23, 2010 when President Barack Obama signed the Affordable care Act, it ushered in a new Patient’s Bill of Rights, which mandates that people under the age of 26 can stay on their parents’ health insurance. The bill will also implement changes to coverage, cost and cares for those already insured.

While many college students may fall into that category, some may not.

According to a recent Kaiser Family Foundation Health Tracking Poll, about three quarters of citizens ages 18-25 believe it’s important for them to get their own insurance and that it is worth the cost. However, nearly 80% of those under 30 know little about the health insurance marketplace.

One organization known as Young Invincibles wants to curve that number, according to USA Today.

The group is involved in a nationwide education campaign called Healthy Young America, and has reached “more than 1,000 youth-serving organizations and health partners with information about the Affordable Care Act and new options through the exchanges,” according to USA Today.

Jennifer Mishory, deputy director at Young Invincibles, said to USA Today that “students will be affected by the online marketplace in three significant ways.”

First, students are free to enroll in plans without the threat of being rejected for coverage due to pre-existing conditions.

Students and families may be eligible for free health coverage with Medicaid, or MediCal as it is called in California, or they may qualify for discounted coverage with monthly tax credits, depending on the state and exact income amounts.

There will be some plans available that include prescription drug coverage and annual wellness exams and substance abuse services.

Many tools are available for students to determine which insurance best fits them, including the need calculator located at Healthcare.gov.

While many resources are available, it is up to the student to seek out the plan that best fits them. Time will eventually run out.