The Affordable Care Act: What does it mean for students?

Millions of Americans were uninsured in previous years. Many couldn’t afford healthcare coverage, some simply chose not to be covered and still others in some minority groups had other ways of handling their own healthcare. Medicare and Medicaid were in existence, but the entire United States, remained under covered. But then, the president of the United States announced that all American citizens needed to be covered, and gave the people an opportunity to access coverage.

A breakdown of what is covered and not covered by Cabrini's health insurance plan.

A breakdown of what is covered and not covered by Cabrini’s health insurance plan.

According to a recent study by Gallup, published on April 7 of this year, in 2008, 14.6 percent of Americans were uninsured. Towards the end of 2013, the percentage of uninsured Americans rose to 18 percent. But after Obamacare began to take effect this year, the uninsured rate fell to 15.6 percent, showing that ObamaCare was beginning to take effect.

As of the beginning of this year, about 23.5 percent of American students are insured. As of April 1, President Obama announced that 7.1 million citizens have signed up for healthcare through the government run market place. Overall, the overhaul of the country’s healthcare system seems to be taking off at a successful rate.

Before ObamaCare was introduced, students were able to stay under their own parents’ plan until the age of 26, find their own health coverage, or be covered through their college’s plan. At the start of 2014, students were required to follow the “individual mandate” of the Affordable Healthcare Act, meaning they need to purchase insurance or pay a penalty, according to The Christian Science Monitor.

At Cabrini College, 80 students are currently covered by purchasing health insurance through a plan offered by the college. For an extra $2,000, Cabrini students can be covered. Cabrini’s coverage takes care of the standard insurance requirements such as accident, sickness, mental health and substance abuse coverage. As the info graphic shows, Cabrini’s plan covers the basics and more. Susan Fitzgerald, director of student health services, is incredibly concerned with the well being of the students whom she works with. “Cabrini’s plan has been compliant with the Affordable Care Act now for two years. We were always a robust plan, even prior to the ACA,” Fitzgerald said. As much as she wants to provide for the students as best she can, she admits that ObamaCare can be hard to wade through and understand. The Affordable Care Act is meant to put everyone on more of an even playing field, but Fitzgerald questions the concept of putting these types of requirements on everyone, across the board.

Eric Olsen, vice president of finance, stressed that it is a group effort to provide the maximum amount of coverage for the college’s students. “The ultimate decision is made by the President’s cabinet,” Olsen said. The college is still debating whether or not it will continue to offer its own coverage.

In light of the introduction of the Affordable Care Act, many colleges have already decided to drop their own health insurance. “The final decision has not been made yet,” Olsen said. He explained by saying, “Now that there are these health care exchanges, we are trying to look at it and say, ‘Are students better served if they just go to the exchanges and have the options?’” As Cabrini grapples with the decision of whether or not to continue providing coverage, the nation will continue to deal with the change of coverage methods.

[update: Beginning August 2014, Cabrini will no longer be sponsoring a student health insurance plan.  “There are multiple websites available to assist you in acquiring the insurance policy best suited to your needs,” according to an update on the college website 2014-04-21.]

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