Enrollment for the Affordable Care Act (ACA) began Oct. 1, 2013 with now over 2.2 million enrollees reported by Healthcare.gov.
According to Healthcare.gov, it is easy to enroll and there is a step by step process which the website will walk individuals through. The website discusses insurance costs, where and how to apply, and other frequently asked questions.
Washington residents will sign up on the Washington Healthplanfinder (wahealthplanfinder.org). At this site, individuals will create an account and find a plan that best fits their needs.
Insurance plans through the ACA will be unable to refuse applicants based on a pre-existing medical condition starting this year, according to Healthcare.gov.
There is one exception to this rule, private or individual plans not associated with Healthcare.gov do not have to cover pre-existing conditions. According to healthcare.gov, these plans are ‘grandfathered’ health insurance plans that are bought by yourself, not through an employer.
Some people may be unable to secure their current and preferred physicians, current treatment centers, and current insurance plans, according to Healthcare.gov. Some patients will have to decide between different hospitals and doctors due to the changes and stipulations within each plan under the ACA.
Employer’s insurance will not change, but students and young adults above 26 years old will face changes with the ACA. Students above the age of 26 must purchase health insurance and will no longer be able to stay on their parents’ plan.
The ACA determines insurance plan pricing based on an individual’s income. For example, a 28 year old student with a full-time job that does not have health care is required by law to sign up. If they fail to enroll, they will be fined 1 percent of their income or $95; which ever amount is higher. There is a long list of exemptions from these fines that include homelessness, eviction, loss of a family member, bankruptcy, utility shut-off, and many more.
Individuals under 30 years old or others with limited finances have the opportunity to purchase “Catastrophic” plans which will cover emergencies and not everyday medical bills. This would allow people to be covered in case of a serious accident keeping an insurance bill lower for those who have faith in their own health. The “Catastrophic” plans were designed for college students with minimal health concerns.
SPSCC student Caleb Theis believes that the government should stay out of health care. “They shouldn’t force people to sign up for it,” said Theis. Theis’s family is military, so they have insurance coverage; he will not sign up for coverage under the ACA.
Theis said, “People should be able to choose their own health care.” He explained how universal health care can cause a monopoly and destroy healthy competition within the market. Theis likes the idea of a community coming together with charities and other types of fundraisers to help those who are less fortunate and cannot afford health care. “The least government intrusion is the best and people helping other people, well there’s nothing wrong with that,” said Theis.
SPSCC student Avery Champagne has taken time to actually read the ACA. There are parts that he likes and dislikes. “I like that you can stay on your parents’ insurance plan until you are 26, that’s what my sister is doing,” said Champagne. He does not like the idea of deadlines forcing people to sign up and the possibility of being fined.
Champagne is not currently insured so he took the time to check out the website. Champagne said, “I went to the ACA site and it redirected me to a Washington state website. I had no idea that would happen. The site it brought me to looked very well done and built specifically for our state.” Champagne refers to the Washington Healthplanfinder (wahealthplanfinder.org) website and expresses positive feedback about the site.
“It looks like Washington was more prepared for the health care change. The Obamacare rollout seemed a little unsuccessful because many states didn’t prepare for it, but Washington was ready,” said Champagne. He believes that Obamacare is a success if it helps anyone find health care that could not previously have access to it.
SPSCC student Jesika Westbrook has not signed up for health care under the ACA since her family has their own health care plan. She has heard the website had issues and said, “This is to be expected, it is still in the beginning stages.” Westbrook also recommends that those who need health care should sign up. “Giving it a chance will show us the true result,” said Westbrook.
Healthcare.gov said, “We’ve made substantive progress on HealthCare.gov – implementing updates that will improve the user experience, improve system throughout, and streamline the process for agent/brokers and customer service representatives.”
Many students refused to comment or said they did not have enough information to have an informed opinion about the ACA.