EDITORIAL: What the Affordable Care Act means to us college kids

(Designed by Anibal Santos)

Lariat Staff

Fact check: I’m alright, I’m on my parent’s insurance plan.

Verdict: Not for long.

As college students, the Affordable Care Act mandate hits close to home. Just as car insurance is mandatory for every driver, now health insurance is as well-even with college books and rising tuition costs are burning holes in wallets.

Now at any age, even if health isn’t a concern, action needs to be taken in order to not be penalized by the government starting January 2014.The fine per adult for not shelling out for health insurance starting in 2014 is $95. If that isn’t enough incentive to insure yourself, a few years may change all of that. In two years the fine will almost septuple.

According to Newnet5.com, “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,” Dennis De Los Santos, a 23-year-old nursing major said. “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. Working as a part-time employee often means not receiving employer health benefits.

“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,” Basel Assaf, a 25-year-old nursing major said.

Like some students, Assaf is nearing age 26, which means he’s almost at the end of his parent’s insurance benefits. He is hoping to find a full-time nursing career providing an individual health benefits plan that isn’t too costly.

Many students currently 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 and results in Medicaid approval.

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 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.”

On the bright side, some problems with the health insurance industry are coming to a resolve. According to CNN, “Insurance companies are no longer allowed to advertise low ‘teaser’ rates that balloon when an applicant starts listing personal traits like age, gender and pre-existing health conditions.”

Even with these changes, health insurance should still be a dinging bell in the back of everyone’s mind as the option to opt out of paying for health insurance is no longer. As college students with worries of deadlines and work schedules, be sure to know your choices and be wary of what the government mandate means to your wallet.