Obamacare. Americans have heard it talked about on the news by savvy politicians or healthcare industry lobbyists, but some are unaware of the true contents of the act and what it has changed since it passed.
Known officially as the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA), "Obamacare" was signed into law in March of 2010. It has made certain reforms to public and private health insurance programs, notably the mandate for increased coverage of pre-existing conditions and an expansion of access to over 30 million Americans.
Know Your Care, a 501(c)(3) organization, was at the University of Wisconsin – Stevens Point last month to spread the word on the not-so-commonly known benefits of the ACA. The group aims to educate the American public about the changes brought about by the Act, and has been touring campuses and senior citizen organizations across Wisconsin in an effort to inform those most affected by its enactment.
Joe Gorzek, Chair of UWSP’s Student Health Advisory Committee, spoke of the significance of Know Your Care’s efforts to spread awareness of the ACA’s benefits.
"It is great that an organization like Know Your Care is working with students here in Stevens Point to help educate young adults on the benefits of the Affordable Care Act," Gorzek said. "With this information young students will have a better understanding of the health care benefits available to us. This knowledge will help us stay healthy and bridge the gap between earning our degrees and future employment."
A key reform made by the ACA was increasing the age limit under which students could be covered through a parent’s insurance plan, now set to 26 years-old.
Jen Sorenson, Interim Administrative Director for Student Health Services at UWSP, attested to the importance of this reform."The biggest effect this had is if you were a student and you were covered under your parents’ insurance because you were full-time and you wanted to drop credits for whatever reason … you would lose your health insurance. That’s what used to happen."
Sorenson also noted that SHS has had students in the past get cancer diagnoses and have to go on chemotherapy. If that student had to drop below full-time status for any reason, he or she would not be covered under parents’ insurance.
Also, when a student graduates from college, no longer is it necessary to find a job that includes healthcare coverage, which is often a difficult task for new graduates.
But there are other reasons the ACA is important for those who are uninsured and under the age of 26. Most importantly for younger people, the law ensures free preventive care without co-pays, and also includes many other screenings and immunizations.
"The no-cost preventative services provided for in the Affordable Care Act make sure that students can remain healthy," said Nate Myszka, Communications Director for Know Your Care Wisconsin.
Sorenson believes that, whether or not it is their top priority, all students should be proactive in making sure they are in the best health possible, and the ACA makes doing this that much easier.
Student Health Services had 8,000 visits last year, and as the visits are covered by all students’ paid segregated fees, Sorenson urges all UWSP students to utilize SHS’s services before health becomes a problem.
"Students know the pressure to succeed is there. And to succeed, you have to be healthy," Sorenson said.
Student Health Services is still giving free flu shots during the month of October, and they are given in the 1st floor of Delzell Hall Mondays- Thursdays from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. For more information on the benefits of the Affordable Care Act, visit www. knowyourcare.org.