Helping students understand impact of new health care law

health careAre you confused about the new Affordable Care Act and how it affects you as a student?

The Illinois PIRG Education Fund Illinois is helping students navigate the new health care law.

“Students have lots of questions about health insurance,” said Emma Chupein, UIC student and Illinois PIRG Education Fund intern. “That’s why we’re sharing these tips to help students find good insurance that won’t break the bank.”

Beginning Jan. 1, 2014, Americans will be required to be covered by an insurance provider or pay a fee, with the goal of keeping health insurance premiums from rising too high.

Rachel Binstock, campus organizer for Illinois PIRG, reaches out to young people who are overwhelmed, uninsured and were denied by health care plans in the past. She was on campus Oct. 3 for a news conference to launch a guide to the act.

“Eighty percent of young people want to be insured — it’s just the cost prohibitions,” Binstock said.

“Illinois PIRG aims to provide simple and clear-cut ways to teach young people their rights in terms of the new act.”

Get Covered Illinois, the Illinois Health Insurance Marketplace, is open for state residents searching for health insurance plans.

Consumers can compare insurance plans and learn more about financial assistance they may qualify for to help lower their premiums and out-of-pocket medical costs. Under the act, health insurance providers cannot deny coverage or raise prices because of preexisting conditions.

“We’re now able to compare and show what an insurance company will cover — it will be so clear as it never was before,” Binstock said.

Financial assistance will also play a big part: if your income is less than about $46,000 for an individual, or $94,000 for a family of four, you can get help paying for insurance.

Chupein stresses the importance of students looking into their options.

If students are covered under their parents’ insurance plans, that coverage ends at age 26. Students covered by the CampusCare insurance plan will lose that coverage when they graduate, so it’s important to know options for the future, she said.

Chupein and her colleagues are working on a YouTube video to educate students on how the Affordable Care Act can benefit them.

“I do like [the Affordable Care Act] a lot, but that’s not the focus of our campaign,” said Chupein, a sophomore in the teaching of history.  “We’re not advocating one way or another. It’s law now. It’s a fact of life — so what does it mean for us? It’s here, so what do we do next?”