The Affordable Care Act could have CU students and recent graduates saving money by joining their parents’ insurance instead of taking on the hefty costs of health insurance alone.
Those between the ages of 19 and 25 have not previously had benefits like those offered in the The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA). Young adults now have the ability to stay on their parents’ insurance until they are 26-years-old, and have access to many free health services.
President Barack Obama signed the act into law in March of 2010. “Obamacare,” as the act is nicknamed, will provide access to health care more than 30 million Americans.
Gabrielle Cox, a 21-year-old senior broadcast news and English major, was excited to learn what the ACA was. Despite hearing its popular epithet, Obamacare, she, like many others, was not quite clear on what the law states.
“My dad is in the military and once I finish school I’ll be kicked off of his insurance,” Cox said.
Cox was pleasantly surprised that there is a chance the ACA will allow her to stay on her father’s insurance until she reaches age 26.
“Insurance companies are missing that gap between 19 and 26 where they could be making money,” Cox said
Nearly one million young Americans from ages 19 to 25 joined their parents’ insurance last year, according to the National Center for Health Statistics.
Healthcare.gov and Younginvincibles.org, among many other websites, offer information for young adults to learn about the ACA benefits and steps for how to apply for them. The 19- to 25-year-old age group in particular can use these resources to learn about public programs, whether or not they are able to join their parent’s insurance, information about preventative care and the ACA in general.
CU, like many major universities, requires all students to have health insurance coverage. The university automatically enrolls students into the Student Gold Health Insurance Plan, a $1,215 fee per semester.
Although some students may find this plan ideal, others opt out of the university’s coverage. Some students are enrolled in public programs and others get their own coverage through an employer or individual plan. The ACA allows applicable students to stay on their parents’ insurance when they come to CU.
Danny Katz is the director of the Colorado Public Interest Research Group (CoPIRG). CoPIRG was started by college students 35 years ago, and tends to focus on issues pertaining to the college demographic.
“There is a lot universities could be doing to educate graduating students,” Katz said.
Recently the group has been encouraging anybody graduating from college to benefit from the ACA. The director expressed hope that one day young people will know they can join their parents’ insurance until age 26 in the same way they readily know they can get a license at age 16.
“This law gives graduating seniors breathing room and free preventative care will save a lot of money in the long run,” Kantz said.
Regulations in the act allow individuals under age 26 to join their parents’ insurance even if they are not a student, not living with their parents, or not filed as dependents on their federal taxes.
Students can join their parents’ health plan even if they are married or have access to insurance through an employer.
According to The Center for Consumer Information & Insurance Oversight, “Private health insurance companies that cover the majority of Americans have volunteered to provide coverage for young adults losing coverage as a result of graduating from college or aging out of dependent coverage on a family policy. This stop-gap coverage, in many cases, is available now.”
Some individual plan protections the ACA provides will not apply to college health plans until the 2012 to 2013 school year. The ACA requires the new individual plans to provide free preventive care at no additional cost. Preventative care includes many screenings, immunizations such as flu shots, nutrition counseling, help to quit smoking and treating depression.
Students can find the next special enrollment period by asking their parents to contact their insurance provider. Those graduating in the near future can enroll in a continued enrollment plan.
The ACA is scheduled to provide more benefits to young adults periodically until the year 2014. Young people can save money by being informed as to how the law benefits them.
Serena Woods is the director of strategic engagement at the Consumer Health Initiative. Organizations like the one she works for are spread around the country working to inform Americans about the benefits the ACA offers them.
“More and more young adults are discovering that they have this opportunity to get on their parents’ insurance,” Woods said. “And also that they’ll be able get preventative care without a co-pay.”
Contact CU Independent Staff Writer Adrian Garcia at firstname.lastname@example.org.