College student health services get boost from health marketplace: Last call for buying insurance

The signatures of President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi on the health insurance reform bill. (Credit: Chuck Kennedy)

The signatures of President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi on the health insurance reform bill. (Credit: Chuck Kennedy)

On Tuesday, February 25, 2014 Vice President Joe Biden appeared on the television show, The View. His appearance on the popular talk show centered in part on voicing a last call to sign up for health insurance in the health care Marketplace. If you don’t have health coverage through your student health services then you may be interested in learning what the health care Marketplace, also known as exchanges, can offer you. The health care insurance exchanges were created through the Affordable Care Act (ACA) also known as Obamacare.

Healthcare.gov

Your starting point for obtaining health insurance begins at Healthcare.gov, the website Marketplace where you can shop for affordable health insurance. Marketplace enrollment ends on March 31, 2014. Those who do not have health insurance coverage by this date may be subject to a penalty of either 1% of their income, or $95 per adult ($47.50 per child), whichever is higher. The penalty will be calculated and paid in 2015 when filing your 2014 tax return.

If you miss the March 31 deadline then you’ll have to wait for the next enrollment period to buy your health insurance through the Marketplace. The next proposed open enrollment period is November 15, 2014 to January 15, 2015.

Exceptions to this rule include:

  • Getting married
  • Adopting a child
  • Permanently moving to an area that has different health options
  • Losing other health coverage due to job loss, divorce, loss of eligibility

If any of these “qualifying life events” apply to you then you can purchase new health coverage through the Marketplace outside of the open enrollment period. Generally, you have anywhere from 30 to 60 days to buy health insurance after the occurrence of a qualifying life event.

Cost of coverage

According to a September 16, 2013 report published by the Department of Health and Human Services the ACA will make health insurance more affordable for millions of Americans through the application of subsidies, tax credits and changes in Medicaid.

In the report, “Fifty-Six Percent of the Uninsured Could Pay $100 or Less Per Month for Coverage in 2014,” authors Laura Skopec and Emily Gee describe the expansion of coverage.

“Of the estimated 21.9 million uninsured Americans eligible to purchase coverage in the Marketplace, 6.4 million may be able to pay $100 or less per person per month for the second lowest-cost silver plan in the Marketplace in their state in 2014, after taking into account their available premium tax credits,” Skopec and Gee said.

The authors also predicted that as many as 12.4 million uninsured Americans will be eligible for Medicaid or Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) coverage in those states that have elected to expand their Medicaid insurance programs.

Health insurance for students

Health insurance options for students were described by the folks at Arizona State University in an article, “Top 10: Most frequently asked questions about the Affordable Care Act.”

According to ASU the Affordable Care Act has a number of advantages, which include:

  • The provision for affordable health insurance
  • Several plans to choose from
  • Tax credits and subsidies to help pay the costs
  • Medicaid coverage is possible
  • Preventive care is included

Unfortunately, like most things in life, there are also disadvantages, which include:

  • Higher deductibles may apply
  • Potential for more out-of-pocket costs
  • Your choice of doctor may not be included in the network of providers

Expanded Medicaid

The ACA allows students under age 26 to be covered by their parents’ health insurance. Students may also be able to purchase health insurance through their school’s health services. Many students can also obtain health care insurance through their employers. If none of these options are available to you then there are other options to explore especially if you are from a low-income family.

You may be able to obtain insurance through your state’s Medicaid program. In a December 14, 2013 article for ABCNews.com, “6 Health Insurance Options for College Students,” Chris Kissell of Bankrate.com outlined options for college students.

According to Kissell, “In the past, Medicaid coverage was limited to narrow populations, including children and pregnant women. As part of health insurance reform, states now have the option of expanding Medicaid eligibility.”

Exceptions to the rule

Not everyone is required to comply with the ACA and buy health insurance. Exceptions include: members of Indian tribes, members of some religious groups and those who do not earn enough income to require the filing of a tax return ($10,000 for a single person under age 65).

Have you purchased insurance through the health care exchanges? Tell us about your experiences in the comments below.

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