The Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, is a hot topic among every American news outlet. Many of the reforms involved in the program have particular implications for college-aged adults, who should stay aware of the coming changes.
As its implementation continues over the next few years, the Affordable Care Act is intended to reform both the breadth of health insurance coverage and the existing methods of healthcare for U.S. citizens.
One of the program’s most relevant facets for young adults is found within a provision that widens insurance coverage, allowing people to remain under the umbrella of their parents’ insurance until age twenty-six.
“That was a really popular provision which a lot of young people are thankful for,” said Scott Waalkes, associate professor of international politics. “So, you have coverage until you’re twenty-six on your family’s plan. It used to be eighteen, unless you’re a full time student, but even if you’re not a student now, under the law, you can get coverage.”
There are some perceived drawbacks to the increase of insurance coverage, mainly the fact that widened coverage—more insurance for more people—means there is a need for more money.
According to a video by the Kaiser Family Foundation, money will be generated by taxes.
“Taxes—many of them targeted at the health industry itself,” the Kaiser Family Foundation video said. “Yes, individuals will pay too, mostly the wealthiest Americans who will be paying more into Medicare. Also, hospitals and insurance companies participating in Medicare will get paid somewhat less.”
Not only will there be an increase in taxes and cuts in some healthcare fields, but the cost of the insurance will be impacted.
“Of course all these changes still don’t mean insurance will be cheap,” the Kaiser Family Foundation video said. “Most people buying their own coverage will end up paying less with the new health insurance tax credits. But some people will have to pay more, even though many of them will be getting better and more secure insurance.”
Mike Fairless, director of human resources, expressed concern about the ramifications of this potential price increase upon students.
“Depending on what healthcare [students] are in, and how it goes, it definitely could impact them,” Fairless said. “Their families could have to pay more for their insurance. That could affect their ability to pay tuition.”
[pullquote]“Their families could have to pay more for their insurance,” Fairless said. “That could affect their ability to pay tuition.”[/pullquote]
Another pertinent aspect of the reform is called a health insurance marketplace or exchange. It is a new arrangement designed for people who do not have health insurance through their employer or family; it enables them to purchase insurance from a private company.
Not every state has or will endorse the exchange system, but Ohio is among the states that do.
Waalkes said these exchanges could serve as a beneficial tool for college-aged people or even graduates.
“Let’s say you get married, and you’re 25, and you go off your parents’ insurance,” Waalkes said. “You can enter in—at least hopefully, someday, maybe, in theory—you enter into these various exchanges.”
Theoretically, Waalkes said, this idea could be very helpful for young people with limited budgets who are attempting to make it on their own.
In light of the government’s recent attempts to make the exchange system a reality, Waalkes is not sure it will work beyond the conceptual stages.
“In fact, this is where all the current news is; what’s happening as they’re rolling out the exchanges,” Waalkes said. “They opened them on November 1 and it’s been a complete and unmitigated disaster. It’s been a mess.”
While information on the Affordable Care Act is new, ever-changing, and seemingly overwhelming, Waalkes emphasized the importance of staying informed.
“[Students] should follow the news coverage, delve into it and get the facts on their own so that they can understand what’s actually occurring and turn to hopefully reliable and trusted sources of information,” Waalkes said.
Hope Samblanet is a contributing writer for The Aviso AVW.