Concern about affordability of health insurance

Some students pay out of pocket, or only worked part time. Requirement of health insurance could prove to be a financial burnden. (CC BY-SA 2.0 / Flickr – 401 (K) 2013)

Chelsea Jarrell

For nearly two weeks, a Republican-dominated House and a Democratic-controlled Senate play tug of war to settle the controversial debt ceiling. Through government shutdown confusion, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) must be understood since it has been proven a major point of contension in the tossle.

As college students, this mandate hits close to home. Just as car insurance is mandatory for every driver, now health insurance is as well-even if college books and tuition are burning holes in wallets.

The fine per adult for purchasing health insurance in 2014 is $95. If that isn’t enough incentive to purchase health insurance, a few years may change all of that.

In two years the fine will almost septuple, according to, “By 2016, the penalties do jump to $695 per adult, $347 per child and $2,085 or 2.5 percent of family income whichever is greater.”

“I don’t even have medical insurance-I pay out of pocket,” said Saddleback College student Dennis De Los Santos, a 23-year-old nursing student. “I don’t agree with how the government is basically penalizing you for not being able to be able to afford insurance.”

With busy schedules and heavy class loads, working part time is a realistic scenario for those in the college age bracket. Part-time employee often means no employer health benefits. Looking into government health care plans becomes the new reality but the quality of these plans is questionable.

“With school it’s hard to study and get A’s when you’re working full time. My employer only offers benefits to full time employees,” said Basel Assaf a 25-year-old nursing major. Like a lot of students, Assaf is nearing age 26, which means nearing the end of receiving his parent’s insurance benefits. He is hoping to find a full-time nursing career providing individual health benefits.

So the mantra, “I will have health insurance under my parents until I’m 26,” rolls on. But many students have parents who are uninsured or may not have parents at all. In these cases, students will be fined unless claims of low personal income and parental income are stated to the government resulting in Medicaid approval.

Student Ryan Bitler a 20-year-old literary journalism major is on his parent’s health insurance plan and uses his benefits once a year. He works part time and attends school part time as well.

“It would be difficult to pay for my own insurance because I go to school part time and don’t get paid enough at my job,” Bitler says. “To get insurance through my work I think I have to work full time.”

This week, 30,000 union workers in Washington threatened to strike as they are unhappy with the shrinking quality of their health plans since the ACA sprung into action resulting in employers dropping benefits. These workers must settle for the lessened coverage or opt to pay penalties.

The outcomes of the Affordable Care Act cannot be predicted but must be tested through time. As college students with worries of deadlines and work schedules, be sure to know your options and be wary of what coverage may mean to your wallets.