By: Nia Porter
As the deadline to sign up for health care under the Affordable Care Act approaches, students are deciding whether they’ll be choosing a plan or paying a fine.
The last day to sign up for health care and avoid a fee from the U.S. government in 2014 is March 31. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Services, over 4.2 million people have signed up for health insurance so far, 27 percent of whom are classified as young adults.
The young adult program Young Invincibles aims to amplify the voices of Americans aged 18 to 34 regarding economic issues like job opportunities, higher education and health care.
Cristina Rivera, a Young Invincibles representative, said that the group aims to educate those unaware of the Affordable Care Act’s new policies.
“The Affordable Care Act is basically making health care more accessible to everyone by providing financial assistance through the marketplace, which is HealthCare.gov,” Rivera said. “It also doesn’t hurt to inform them about some of the perks that come along with the new reform.”
For students, one of these perks includes being able to stay on their parents’ plans until the age of 26.
“Aside from staying on your parents’ plan until you’re 26, if you’re at a university that has a student health plan, these universities now have to abide by the requirements of the Affordable Care Act,” Rivera said.
One of these new requirements is that universities participating must provide preventative services to students with no copayments, which are the costs covered by insurance companies that insurance holders pay out of pocket.
Alia Fleury, a Xavier University pre-med junior, decided to sign up for a student health plan.
“As a pre-med student, I understand how important health insurance is,” Fleury said. “Honestly, it would be devastating if something were to happen to me, and I didn’t have health insurance to help cover the costs.”
Fleury said that having health insurance has become one of her main priorities in order to help pay for the cost of her prescriptions and doctor visits.
“Overall, it really helps give students that peace of mind by having health insurance in case something should happen,” Rivera said.
Rivera said that in New Orleans, the average 25-year-old could get a health care plan that’s either free or that costs close to nothing — some ranging from $15 to $20 a month.
However, despite these costs, many young adults still lack basic health insurance.
“I see it often, actually, and I find that it’s mostly prevalent among young, African-American males,” Rachel Lockhart, a pharmacist at an Elysian Fields Walgreens, said.
Rivera said Latinos and African-Americans lack the most in health coverage, and Young Invincibles hopes to change this.
“The things that we’d really like to highlight the most right now is that financial assistance is available,” Rivera said.