New House Document Is No Plan to Protect Millennials’ Health Care

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

February 17, 2017

Contact: Sarah Schultz, sarah.schultz@younginvincibles.org, 202.734.6510

New House Document Threatens Millennials’ Health Care, Would End Medicaid As We Know It

[WASHINGTON]–On Thursday, House Republicans released a document that makes clear that they have no plan to protect Millennials’ health care and would trample on the progress young adults have made under the Affordable Care Act. YI’s Executive Director Jen Mishory released the following statement on the paper:

“Studies have shown that proposals similar to the House Republican release would strip young adults of their coverage and increase costs for young people currently eligible for premium tax credits. The House document, certainly not an actual plan, would also provide significant tax cuts to the rich while ending Medicaid as we know it — cutting coverage and benefits for the most vulnerable in our society, including pregnant women, people with disabilities, and low-income workers. It could also allow discrimination against up to 30 million young adults with a pre-existing condition. Under the Affordable Care Act, more than 8 million young adults have gained coverage. Under House Republicans’ framework, costs will rise, the number of uninsured will climb, and protections against insurers’ worst abuses will be stripped away. That’s bad for young people’s health.”

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5 Reasons #PriceIsWrong for Millennials’ Health

By Colin Seeberger

Price

Rep. Tom Price’s history as a member of Congress raises alarming flags about the policies he might champion as Secretary of Health & Human Services. He needs to answer for this record. Here’s a quick rundown of how a Secretary Price could significantly undermine Millennials’ health.

1. Price would significantly cut young people’s access to coverage.

In the last Congress, Rep. Price authored a bill called Empowering Patients, which would repeal the Affordable Care Act, or the essential means by which 8 million young adults have gained health care coverage, including 2.3 million young people who have been able to stay on a parent’s plan until they turn 26 (dependent coverage provision); 3.8 million through Medicaid expansion; and millions more through federal and state health insurance marketplaces. A new report from the Congressional Budget Office finds that repealing the Affordable Care Act would cause 18 million to lose their insurance and premiums to increase up to 25 percent next year. A Kaiser analysis of Rep. Price’s Empowering Patients legislation, his bill would would repeal the ACA’s dependent coverage provision and eliminate the ACA’s Medicaid expansion without a replacement to provide low-income enrollees coverage, much less coverage with comparable benefits.

2. Price doesn’t understand young women’s health needs.

Speaking at 2012 CPAC conference, when asked by a reporter about what women who have struggled to afford birth control should do if the ACA’s birth control mandate was undone, Rep. Price said: “Bring me one woman who’s [been unable to afford birth control]… There’s not one.” According to a 2010 Planned Parenthood Action Fund survey, 55 percent of women ages 18 to 34 have struggled with the cost of prescription birth control. It’s worth noting, Rep. Price has consistently voted to defund Planned Parenthood.

3. Price would give huge tax cuts to billionaires and cut financial help for low- and middle-income young adults.

Rep. Price’s health care bill would cut premium tax credits to low- and middle-income people and redirect that support, and in smaller levels, to individuals based on age. That means that young people, who have less work experience and thus typically lower wages, would see their access to financial assistance that helps them afford coverage slashed. Young adults are already earning $10,000 less than young adults a generation ago, so restructuring the financial help how Rep. Price suggests would only further stunt Millennial’s economic vitality. Furthermore, Rep. Price’s bill would provide 2.5 times more financial assistance to purchase coverage for middle-aged people, regardless of their wealth or health status, as it would to young workers making the minimum wage. In other words, Price would give a tax credit that is 2.5 times larger to the CEO of Goldman Sachs than he would to a recent college graduate working full-time at the GAP.

4. Price would push young people into policies that don’t meet their needs.

Price’s bill would eliminate the ACA’s Essential Health Benefits that currently ensure all Qualified Health Plans include maternity and mental health coverage. Prior to the ACA, just 12 percent of policies sold on the individual insurance market included maternity coverage as a benefit, despite the fact that the average, uncomplicated pregnancy could, on average, set a consumer paying out of pocket back $18,000. Additionally, mental health and trauma-related disorders are the top two conditions for which young adults receive health care, and 7.6 million young adults receive care for mental health conditions annually.

5. Price would expose 30 million young adults with pre-existing conditions to being denied or charged more for coverage.

Kaiser’s analysis also notes that Price’s bill would repeal the ACA’s prohibition on denying coverage for pre-existing conditions. Instead, people with pre-existing conditions could be guaranteed coverage only if they are already insured or if they withstand an 18 month waiting period. In other words, say that you are working at a job and have a one week lapse in employment and health coverage, under Rep. Price’s bill, insurance companies would be allowed to deny you coverage for up to 18 months due to the one week lapse in coverage.

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2016 MILLENNIAL MEMO (June 15, 2016): Keeping tabs on higher education debates

2016 MILLENNIAL MEMO (June 15, 2016)

Hope you all are making it through this tough week okay — I know it’s been a sad one. Please find this week’s edition of Millennial Memo below. Stay in the know by signing up for updates here, and follow us on Twitter at @YoungInvincible.

VEEP WATCH–WARREN CALLS FOR STRIPPING FOR-PROFIT COLLEGE ACCREDITOR OF ITS AUTHORITY: Senator Elizabeth “Warren is calling on an advisory board at the Department of Education to deny the [Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools] agency the recognition it needs from the department to do its job, a request that has the backing of consumer advocates and at least 13 state attorneys general. The board… is slated to meet later this month to decide the council’s future… Warren wrote in a letter to Education Secretary John B. King Jr. and Education Under Secretary Ted Mitchell. ‘ … I urge the department to … take strong, aggressive action to hold ACICS accountable for its dismal record of failure.’ The council, which accredits more than 800 college campuses, gained notoriety for claiming Corinthian Colleges, a for-profit chain that state and federal authorities accused of lying to students and committing fraud, was in good enough standing to continue to receive billions of dollars in taxpayer funds… Ben Miller, senior director for post-secondary education at CAP, found that more than half of the $5.7 billion in federal student aid awarded to ACICS-approved schools in the past three years went to institutions facing some sort of state or federal investigation.” (The Washington Post, 6/10/2016)

CLINTON CAMPAIGN STAFFS UP ON MILLENNIAL OUTREACH, PLANS YOUNG VOTER LISTENING TOUR: “Hillary Clinton’s campaign, looking to shore up support with millennials, has hired Bernie Sanders’ national campus and student organizing director, according to a Clinton aide. The move comes as the Clinton campaign launches her new “millennial engagement” program, an initiative that will look to help Clinton with a demographic that overwhelmingly tilted toward the Vermont senator during the primary. Kunoor Ojha, the former Sanders aide, will serve as the Clinton campaign’s national campus and student organizing director, tasked with listening to young voters and convincing them to back Clinton. This is the Clinton campaign’s first major hire from the Sanders campaign. Anne Hubert, a former Viacom senior vice president, will lead the millennial outreach effort. Sarah Audelo, former political director at Rock the Vote, will be Clinton’s youth vote director. ‘The team will travel the country and listen directly to millennial voters — including students, parents, workers, and organizers — to ensure that they have the voice at the table and that the campaign is addressing the issues that matter most,’ a Clinton aide said. ‘They will also serve as a resource for state teams to ensure that every state has an aggressive program to reach millennial voters.’” (CNN, 6/10/2016)

SIREN–ALARMING POLL RESULTS ON STUDENT DEBT & HOMEOWNERSHIP: “The National Association of Realtors joined with the nonprofit American Student Assistance to conduct a survey of only those student loan borrowers who are current in their repayments and therefore mostly likely to be financially ready to make a home purchase. Seventy-one percent of those surveyed said their student loan debt is delaying them from buying a home. More than half said they expect that delay to last longer than five years… Forty-three percent of those polled carried between $10,001 and $40,000 in student debt, while 38 percent owed $50,000 or more. The most common debt burden was between $20,000 and $30,000. Because of their student debt, 69 percent said they don’t feel financially secure enough to buy a home, while 80 percent said they can’t save for a down payment. Student loan debt isn’t just affecting first-time buyers, although that group’s participation in the housing market is at historically low levels… Nearly a third of those surveyed who are current homeowners said they can’t afford sell their current home and buy another one because of student loan debt.” (The Washington Post, 6/13/2016)

SENATE APPROPS RESTORES YEAR-ROUND PELL, SLIGHTLY ADJUSTS MAX GRANT AWARD: “The full Senate Appropriations Committee on Thursday approved legislation that would reinstate year-round Pell Grants for low-income students and provide a $2 billion boost for the National Institutes of Health. The 2017 appropriations bill for the Departments of Education, Labor and Health and Human Services would increase the maximum Pell Grant to $5,935 and once again allow students to receive the grants in the summer, a benefit that was eliminated in 2011 amid a spike in the program’s costs.” (Inside Higher Ed, 6/10/2016)

CLINTON CAMPAIGN LAUNCHES FAUX TRUMP U INFOMERCIAL: Available here.

OBAMA ADMIN RELEASES DRAFT RULE TO CHANGE CURRENT STUDENT DEBT FORGIVENESS RULES: “Students will have a clearer path to loan forgiveness if they are defrauded or misled by their colleges, according to rules issued Monday by the Obama administration, which also create a financial backstop to ensure that schools, not taxpayers, are responsible for the debt. As it stands, students can apply to have their federal loans discharged if they can prove a school used illegal or deceptive tactics in violation of state law to persuade them to borrow money for college. Now the department is outlining a set of violations that would make borrowers eligible for loan forgiveness. Chief among them is a breach of contract as well as a state or federal court judgement against a school related to the loan or the educational services for which the loan was made. The government would also consider wiping away debt in the event of a ‘substantial misrepresentation’ by the school about the nature of the program, financial charges or the chance graduates have of finding work, according to the proposal. According to the department, the proposed regulation would have an annual budget impact of anywhere from $199 million to $4.2 billion. Department officials are aiming to have the rule in place by November 2016, which means it would take effect the following July.” (The Washington Post, 6/13/2016)

SENATE SPECIAL

COLORADO–GRAHAM BLAMES DECREASED STATE INVESTMENT IN HIGHER ED ON MEDICAID: Speaking at an Americans for Prosperity forum in Broomfield, Colorado last Friday, former CSU Athletic Director and candidate for U.S. Senate Jack Graham said: “I experienced the consequences of the never ending expansion of Medicaid when I was at Colorado State University and I saw the increased cost of in-state tuition to our students, because as Medicaid expanded, it consumed budgetary dollars under the TABOR limits that were no longer available to higher education — to students going to Colorado State University — and as a result of that, tuition levels go up and with that goes increased levels of student debt.”

COLORADO–BLAHA ENCOURAGES BORROWERS TO SHOP AROUND IN PRIVATE MARKET: Speaking at a GOP Senate Primary debate at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs last week, Robert Blaha said: “I think the solution is actually quite simple. The solution is we let the free market come in. We let students take those products and services to the free market just like all of us do for mortgages… This [increased] competition will drive prices down.”

COLORADO–KEYSER PUSHES BACK ON REFINANCING IN THE PRIVATE MARKET: At a GOP Senate Primary debate at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs last week, Jon Keyser said: “The problem is actually something that me and my wife felt… Frankly, it’s tough to have the credit rating to be able to refinance in the private sector. And that is a risk that you take, because when you get that loan from the government you have forbearance and some other things that come along with that. So students sometimes have to take a risk to privatize to refinance their student loans, but it’s difficult because unless you have a high enough credit score and earn enough right out of college, you’re not going to be able to find somebody to lend you that money.”

COLORADO–GOP CANDIDATES RESPOND ON HIGHER ED REFORM QUESTIONS: GOP Senate primary candidates were asked a number of rapid fire questions about where they stand on everything from student loan forgiveness programs, student loan refinancing, and the federal government’s role in regulating higher education. Listen here..
 

NEW HAMPSHIRE–HASSAN UNVEILS “NH 2.0 PLAN”, INCLUDES HIGHER ED & WORKFORCE INITIATIVES: Late last week, the Hassan campaign unveiled its NH 2.0 plan on innovation and middle class economic opportunity. Included in the plan are a number of higher education reform ideas. Governor Hassan states that she “will fight to help these borrowers by allowing them to refinance their loans at today’s lower interest rates, a move that could benefit an estimated 129,000 Granite Staters. She will also work to cut interest rates for new student loans to stop the federal government from profiting off of this debt. And she will make it easier for borrowers to enroll in income-based repayment programs that cap their monthly payments and allow borrowers to pause repayments as they transition to high-need careers or start new businesses… She will… [work] to expand Pell Grants, consolidating and expanding tax incentives to help students and families save and pay for college, encouraging schools to experiment with ways of lowering the cost of delivering high-quality higher education and fighting to achieve debt-free public college for all families… Maggie will… [support] bipartisan efforts to simplify the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and use the Department of Education’s new college scorecards to help students and families get the information they need to compare schools and make smart choices… [Governor Hassan] will [support] bipartisan efforts to expand apprenticeship opportunities and by making federal higher education grants and loans more flexible to enable adult workers to learn new skills.” (MaggieHassan.com, Innovate NH 2.0)

NEW HAMPSHIRE–PRO-AYOTTE STUDENT DEBT LTE CAMPAIGN CONTINUES WITH PIECE FROM FMR UNH COLLEGE GOP PRES: In a letter to the editor of the Union-Leader, former UNH College Republicans president Philip Boynton writes: “I applaud the work Kelly Ayotte did to get bipartisan student loan reform off the ground! Too many senators are afraid to reach across the aisle, but not Kelly Ayotte. Time and again, she has proven to be an independent leader. Thanks to this kind of leadership, more students will have many opportunities to go to college and do so with less debt. College isn’t cheap, and working across the aisle isn’t easy, but Sen. Ayotte has managed to lead an important step toward making college more affordable and do so in a bipartisan way. We’d be fortunate to have more senators like Kelly Ayotte that lead in an independent way.”

NORTH CAROLINA–ROSS CALLS FOR FREE COMMUNITY COLLEGE & BAN THE BOX-STYLE APPROACH TO EMPLOYMENT FOR FELONS TRANSITIONING BACK TO THE WORKFORCE: “During her Monday event Ross took suggestions about important economic issues and answered questions from the group of attendees. Ross expressed support for free community college ‘if kids do well in school.’ In certain sectors where safety wouldn’t be a concern, Ross said felons should be able to apply for jobs without crimes counting against them. ‘If we want to prevent people from committing other crimes, we need to have a robust re-entry program,’ she said.” (Salisbury Post, 6/14/2016)

NORTH CAROLINA–BURR TOUTS SUPPORT OF 2013 INTEREST RATES DEAL:
(Source: Richard Burr’s Twitter Account, 6/13/2016)
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Young Invincibles’ Statement on Harmful House FY2016 Budget

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

March 17, 2015

Contacts: Colin Seeberger, colin.seeberger@younginvincibles.org, 214.223.2913; Sarah Lovenheim, sarah.lovenheim@younginvincibles.org, 585.746.8281

House FY16 Budget Harms Young People by Cutting Funds for Higher Education, Job Programs, and Health Care

Today, the House Budget Committee released their fiscal year 2016 budget, which harms young adults’ economic security in the areas of higher education, jobs, and healthcare.

Jennifer Wang, policy director at Young Invincibles, said:

“Congress must not balance the federal budget by saddling students and their families with more debt, but the House FY16 Budget does just that. The House plan proposes roadblocks to eligibility for Pell Grants, including some that would bar students entirely from receiving this important aid for college. It also slashes all mandatory funding for Pell Grants, which would leave Pell Grants even more vulnerable to future cuts during the appropriations process. The budget also recommends the use of so-called “fair-value accounting” on student loans to disincentivise the government from strengthening education funding. Students and families deserve real investments, not huge cuts to grants for college and accounting tricks.”

“By consolidating job training programs, this budget also threatens workforce programs that target young adults trying to get back on their feet after the Great Recession. And, this budget also dismantles the Affordable Care Act, which has already resulted in health care coverage for millions of young people. It also attacks Medicaid expansion, which helps low-income families receive critical health services. Now is not the time to roll back job and healthcare policies that have been working for young people.”

To invest in our generation, Young Invincibles has advocated for:

  • Mandatory funding for Pell Grants, year-round Pell Grants, raising maximum Pell Grants to match average in-state tuition at four-year public institutions, and indexing Pell Grants to inflation
  • Strengthening health care coverage for young adults
  • Well-targeted jobs programs that help unemployed young adults
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How North Carolina Can Help Struggling Millennials, And Boost Its Economy

By Colin Seeberger

This week, North Carolina kicks off what is bound to be a raucous 2015 legislative session. With important debates looming around the state’s support for higher education and access to affordable health care for young North Carolinians, the state might as well call this session: the Millennial legislative session.

As economic recovery begins, the General Assembly must decide how to invest in the state’s future. It should start by looking at two systems it has neglected – higher education and health care – and how these decisions affect young adults and the state’s economy.

Recent cuts to higher education threaten to drive tuition prices higher. Since the Great Recession, North Carolina has cut higher education spending per student by 13%, helping drive tuition at its 4-year public universities up by 35% – or twice the rate of inflation.

It makes sense that during an economic downturn, North Carolina – like many states – cut corners. But today, as more people go back to work, it is not fair to ask North Carolina students to pay more in tuition while the state doles out corporate welfare.

Unfortunately, that is exactly what’s been happening. In fact, North Carolina faces a budget shortfall of nearly $200 million, largely due to a series of tax reforms.

Rather than reinvest in its young people, the state has prioritized additional tax cuts that threaten economic growth. The General Assembly and Governor must reinvest in higher education this year to change this – and fast. 

Yet combating college costs isn’t the only thing that North Carolina Millennials will keep an eye on this legislative session. There’s one other big economic challenge facing our generation. As the state’s most uninsured age group, young adults in North Carolina need expanded access to affordable health care coverage.

Unfortunately during the last legislative session, the General Assembly rejected the Affordable Care Act’s Medicaid expansion to accept billions in federal funding to provide free health coverage to the state’s poorest adults. North Carolina decided 553,000 of its lowest-income residents were too poor to be given access to an affordable coverage option. Up to 47% of these North Carolinians locked out of affordable health care are Millennials.

NC_medicaid

Ultimately, those who are suffering from the General Assembly’s refusal are North Carolina’s hardest workers — many work in restaurants or retail stores, while many more are in school working towards a degree. In a recent survey, 69% of young adults who did not complete college said that having insurance would have helped them “a lot” at earning a degree. Because earning a college degree can improve a person’s chance of landing a job to contribute to the economy, North Carolina needs to make it easier for its Millennials to get a degree, not harder.

Yet North Carolina is choosing to leave $51 billion on the table by refusing to expand Medicaid, while suffering from a significant revenue shortfall. Expanding coverage isn’t just a decision that would give North Carolina’s uninsured population greater financial and health security, it would also improve the state’s fiscal health.

It’s time for the North Carolina legislature to say that the interests of its young people are more important than partisan bickering and strident ideologies – and critical to economic stability.

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Health Advocates To Release Report Outlining The Impact Of Florida’s Failure To Expand Coverage For Young Floridians



FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

November 18, 2014

Contacts:
Sarah Lovenheim, sarah.lovenheim@younginvincibles.org;
Colin Seeberger, colin.seeberger@younginvincibles.org
Athena Ford Smith, athena@floridachain.org

(ORLANDO) — Four major health advocacy groups — Young Invincibles, Florida CHAIN, Hispanic Health Initiatives, Inc. and Planned Parenthood of Greater Orlando — will convene a press conference today at noon to urge newly elected state officials to commit to closing Florida’s coverage gap. On the heels of Open Enrollment, nearly one million Floridians could remain uninsured because
Florida’s lawmakers have failed to close the health coverage gap.

At the press conference, Young Invincibles and Florida CHAIN will release a new report, highlighting the consequences of Florida’s inaction on young people’s health, and the state’s economy.

Cristina Rivera of Young Invincibles said of the report, “This brief looks at Florida’s choice to ignore the state’s health care coverage gap, and how that will impact young Floridians. More than one-third of the nearly one million Floridians in the gap are between the ages of 18 and 34. Uninsured young adults are more likely to delay or ignore needed medical care and struggle with medical bills or debt than their insured peers, which can harm their health, education, and job prospects.”

In addition to presenting their report findings at the press conference, Young Invinicbles and Florida CHAIN will unveil a new exhibit called Lives on the Line — a collection of more than 60 photographs showing the faces of people stuck in Florida’s coverage gap, as a way to demonstrate the diversity of people affected by Florida’s choice.

“These photos are a powerful reminder that the nearly 1 million Floridians stuck in the gap are real people,” said Athena Ford Smith of Florida CHAIN of the new photography exhibit. “They are working moms and dads, students, veterans, unemployed workers and others. Each one of them deserves the security of knowing they can see a doctor when they need to without the fear of enormous medical bills.”

Planned Parenthood, which provides over 21,000 healthcare visits per years at Planned Parenthood Health Centers in Orange County, is deeply concerned that the majority of people it connects with during these visits lack health coverage. “We provide over 21, 000 healthcare visits per year at our Planned Parenthood Health Centers in Orange County and in a recent survey, we found that 60% of those patients fall in the Florida health coverage gap,” said Anna Eskamani, Director of External Affairs of Planned Parenthood of Greater Orlando.

Here are more details regarding tomorrow’s press conference:

WHAT: Press conference, featuring Lives on the Line and a new policy report, The Health Coverage Gap and Young Floridians, providing Millennial-specific Census data.

WHEN: TODAY at noon

WHERE: Park Lake Presbyterian Church, 309 East Colonial Drive, Orlando

WHO: Orlando residents stuck in the Florida coverage gap are expected to share their story, Anna Eskamani, Director of External Affairs, Planned Parenthood of Greater Orlando; Cristina Rivera, Young Invincibles; Josephine Mercado, Executive Director, Hispanic Health Initiatives; Athena Smith Ford, Advocacy Director, Florida CHAIN

The press conference is sponsored by Health Care for Florida Now, a coalition of nearly 100 organizations across the state dedicated to ensuring Florida takes advantage of this unprecedented opportunity.

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Young Invincibles’ Statement on 8 Million Americans Gaining Coverage Through ACA Exchanges

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

April 17, 2014

Contact: Colin Seeberger, colin.seeberger@younginvincibles.org, 214.223.2913

Young Invincibles’ Statement on 8 Million Americans Gaining Coverage Through ACA Exchanges

35 Percent of Enrollees Under 35

[WASHINGTON]—This afternoon, the White House announced that 8 million Americans enrolled in Qualified Health Plans through the Affordable Care Act’s health insurance marketplaces. Additionally, the White House announced that 28 percent of enrollees were between the ages of 18 and 34, and 35 percent of enrollees are under the age of 35.

“This law is delivering on the promise of coverage and economic security for young people across the country,” said Jen Mishory, Executive Director of Young Invincibles. “Millions of young adults have enrolled in plans on the Marketplaces, enrolled in Medicaid or gotten coverage on their parents plan thanks to the ACA. Our work is not done—millions more could be eligible for coverage during special enrollment periods throughout the year.”

Yesterday, Young Invincibles released a report on young adults and special enrollment periods. The report found that young adults are significantly more likely to qualify for 60-day special enrollment periods—allowing them to get covered outside of the traditional open enrollment period—than their older counterparts.

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Young Invincibles is a national organization committed to amplifying the voices of young adults, ages 18 to 34, and expanding economic opportunity for our generation. Young Invincibles ensures that young adults are represented in today’s most pressing societal debates through cutting-edge policy research and analysis, and innovative campaigns designed to educate, inform and mobilize our generation to change the status quo.

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Guest Post: 3 Ways the ACA Will Change Your Health Care Coverage in 2014

By Emily Newhook

Photo Mar 22, 10 43 19 AM

Young Invincibles enrollment event at Little Haiti Cultural Center, Miami, Florida

The implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) means big changes in 2014, including the way many young Americans pay for doctor’s appointments and other health care expenses. Here are three facets of the law that take effect this year – and how they may change your next doctor’s appointment.

1. Pre-existing conditions won’t prevent you from getting most types of coverage

Between 19% and 50% of Americans under the age of 65 have pre-existing conditions. Pre-existing conditions refer to medical issues that exist before you apply for insurance. Serious examples include cancer, ongoing mental illness and HIV/AIDS, but you could have also been denied coverage based on common complaints such as hay fever or an overbite – until now, at least. Now, your insurance company cannot deny you or your enrolled family members coverage for any pre-existing conditions. (Certain “grandfathered” plans in existence before March 23, 2010 are exempt from this requirement. Your insurer will notify you if you have a grandfathered plan.)

2. You may get help paying for medical expenses through subsidies, tax credits or Medicaid

We all know health insurance is expensive; however, the ACA includes two key provisions that may help take the strain off your wallet:

Premium tax credit essentials

  • The premium tax credit is only available for “metal level” (i.e. bronze, silver, gold or platinum) plans purchased through the new health insurance marketplaces.
  • Your income must be between 100 and 400 percent of the federal poverty level ($11,490 to $45,960 for individuals) to qualify.
  • You can choose to receive your premium tax credit in advance (i.e. automatically deducted from the amount you owe for your health insurance premium each month), or at the end of the year when you file your tax return.
  • The amount of your premium tax credit will vary based on your income and how much plans cost your area. To find out how much your premium tax credit is worth, check out this handy subsidy calculator from the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation.
  • Some silver level plan beneficiaries are eligible for another ACA program, cost-sharing subsidies, that lowers copays, coinsurance and deductibles.

Medicaid essentials

In summer 2012, the Supreme Court ruled that states were not required to expand Medicaid– meaning that states can decide for themselves whether or not they plan to pursue that option. Does it matter for you? It might. Expansion is meant to provide insurance for those who do not make enough income to pay for it on their own. Before the ACA, Medicaid eligibility was limited in most states to certain categories of low-income individuals (e.g. children, pregnant women, the aged, blind or disabled). Now, all low-income individuals including childless adults can qualify for coverage through Medicaid in states participating in the Medicaid expansion. The states that expand Medicaid will increase eligibility levels to 138 percent of the federal poverty line ($15,856 for an individual) – a measure that would cover over 40% of all uninsured Americans (especially the working poor) if all states took advantage of the opportunity.

Are you eligible for expanded Medicaid? The first step is finding out whether or not your state leaders support the measure. Click here to see where your state stands on Medicaid expansion.

3. Health insurance plans must offer 10 essential health benefits

Under the ACA, all health insurance plans must offer 10 “essential health benefits” (with the exception of “grandfathered” plans). The 10 essential benefits include:

1. Outpatient care, such as a doctor’s office visit.

2. Emergency services, such as emergency room visits and transportation by ambulance. In addition, you won’t be penalized for going to an out-of-network ER.

3. Inpatient hospital care.

4. Maternity and newborn care.

5. Mental health services and addiction treatment.

6. Prescription medications, though insurers may limit drugs they will cover or require your doctor to try a less expensive medication before they will cover expensive drugs.

7. Rehabilitative services and devices.

8. Laboratory services and preventive screenings such as blood monitoring, x-rays and CAT scans.

9. Preventive services such as wellness exams, certain chronic disease treatment, immunizations, certain wellness services and preventive screenings will be covered.

10. Pediatric services such as well-child visits, immunizations, dental and vision care.

Note that while there are no dollar limits on essential health benefits, there may be some restrictions on the number of days or treatments covered.

There’s a lot of information and misinformation about the ACA and how it will influence your health – and your bottom line. Protecting yourself requires educated decisions about health care, which means it’s crucial to keep reading and stay engaged as you seek out a health insurance option that works for you.

How has the ACA affected your ability to stay healthy and solvent in 2014? Tell us about it!

Emily Newhook is an outreach coordinator for the MHA degree program from The George Washington University, MHA@GW. Outside of work, she enjoys writing, film studies and powerlifting. Follow Emily on Twitter and Google+.

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In Alabama, College Students Take On Challenge of Health Insurance Sign-Up

New York Times 

By: Michael Winerip

Students at the University of Alabama Honors College here are encouraged to do volunteer work in the community and on campus.

For Marlan Golden, a senior, that has included being a Big Brother; running an education project for local Latinos; serving as president of the Alpha Tau Omega fraternity; and, most recently, signing up people for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act.

For that last one, Mr. Golden, 21, has not had to leave the fraternity house. He and several other student volunteers have been spending recent afternoons signing up the kitchen help and housekeepers of Alpha Tau Omega, as well as those at other campus fraternities and sororities.

“These are people who feed us and clean up after us but have no health care,” Mr. Golden said as he and a cook sat at his laptop filling out an application.

Mr. Golden spent an hour and a half setting up a user name, password and profile for the woman, as well as guiding her through a long list of questions about her income and health habits like whether she smoked and, if so, when she last had a cigarette. (“I’m not going to lie, that would be today, Marlan.”) After studying the costs of various coverage options, she settled on a Blue Cross and Blue Shield silver plan.

By then, the woman looked drained, but Mr. Golden was ready for more. “We only have till March 31,” he said, referring to the national enrollment deadline. “We have to keep going.”

Mr. Golden is one of about 600 student volunteers from a dozen colleges around Alabama who have been trained to help enroll people for insurance under President Obama’s signature law. They have canvassed churches, job fairs, barber shops in black neighborhoods, libraries — wherever people unlikely to have health care gather.

The all-volunteer organization, known as Bama Covered, is believed to be the only group doing enrollment that is made up solely of college students. The effort has the feel of student activism from an earlier time, like the push to register blacks to vote during the civil-rights era. By the end of February, Alabama reached 84 percent of its projected enrollment goal, ahead of thenational figure of 75 percent.

The founders — Josh Carpenter, 26, a Rhodes scholar from Florence, and Daniel Liss, 25, a Harvard-educated banker from Scarsdale, N.Y. — put together the campaign in under two months. Their hope is that if they can succeed here in such a red state, the organization will be replicable around the country.

It has been a challenge. As Dr. Max Michael, the dean of the school of public health at the University of Alabama at Birmingham said, “They picked one hell of a place to try out this model.”

The governor, Robert Bentley, is a Republican in a Republican-dominated state where only 10 percent of the white vote went for Mr. Obama in 2008. In January, Mr. Bentley spent a good part of his State of the State address criticizing the new federal health law.

An estimated 643,000 of the 4.8 million Alabamians have no insurance and the state has the country’s lowest Medicaid income cutoff, according to a 2013 study by the Kaiser Family Foundation; a parent in a family of three with household income above $3,221 does not qualify.

But if Alabamians skew conservative politically, they are liberal about philanthropy, ranked near the top in national surveys of per capita giving.

By casting the enrollment drive in a charitable, rather than political, light, organizers have been able to broaden their appeal to attract students like Megan Ryan, an Auburn University junior from Enterprise who describes herself as “conservative in morals and politics.”

Ms. Ryan, a churchgoer, has helped conduct weekly information sessions at Greater Peace Missionary Baptist Church in Opelika. “It was encouraging to see faces light up when they realize they can have health care,” she said. “I feel like I’m making a difference.”

Wayne Flynt, a retired Auburn history professor, says that 70 percent of Alabama residents were born in the state. “People go way back in a place, with a tremendous sense of responsibility to community,” he said.

He is a member of the Bama Covered advisory board and teaches Sunday school at Auburn First Baptist Church. “What motivates a lot of these young volunteers,” he said, “is they come from a religious tradition that mandates they care for people.”

Representatives from two national organizations that use student volunteers to assist in enrollment — Enroll America and the Young Invincibles — say they know of no other statewide organization like Bama Covered.

Several professors of social work and public health around the state — Dr. Pamela Foster at Alabama, Emily Myers at Auburn, Akofa Bonsi at the University of Alabama at Birmingham and Tracy Pressley at Alabama State University — are permitting students to fulfill case work requirements by volunteering for Bama Covered.

Mr. Carpenter and Mr. Liss came up with the idea in November when they were in Britain: Mr. Carpenter doing his Rhodes research, Mr. Liss working for Deutsche Bank.

By December, Mr. Liss had quit his job and Mr. Carpenter, a University of Alabama at Birmingham graduate and a former state teacher of the year, took a break from his research. “This is a historic moment for our generation,” Mr. Carpenter said. “Think of being a social worker in 1936, right after Social Security was enacted.”

Dr. Michael, the University of Alabama at Birmingham dean, gave them free office space, but mostly they work out of the back seat of Mr. Liss’s 2006 Honda, where he keeps a printer, paper cutter, water bottles and thousands of leaflets, along with a suit, tie and belt for church visits.

Alabama is a small universe, and Mr. Carpenter’s family is well-connected. His father, David, a minister and an electrician in Florence, is widely known in the northwest corner of the state. That got the son an introduction to Mary Jolley, 86, a former director of economic and community affairs for the University of Alabama and a founder of a network of 14 family resource centers around the state.

“I told people, ‘You need to meet these two young men, they’re going to do great stuff,’ ” Ms. Jolley said.

Even among the mostly middle-class student volunteers there are families with no insurance. Jalisa Jordan, a junior at Alabama State, has a stepfather who is a waiter and who has seizures. “My mom is afraid to call an ambulance,” she said. “When he wakes up, he gets upset about how we’re going to pay the bill.”

Mr. Carpenter and Mr. Liss originally spoke with representatives from Enroll America, one of the bigger national organizations doing sign-up work, but decided not to partner with it because several of the leaders served in the Obama administration and the group takes money from insurance companies. “People in Alabama don’t respond to groups that are national,” Mr. Carpenter said. “We have no national names, no national funding.”

With the exception of a $25,000 grant from a Birmingham-based foundation and $12,500 from the University of Alabama at Birmingham Hospital they have almost no funding at all.

Mr. Carpenter says the power of students is that they are not easily discouraged. That was true for Katie Carter, an occupational therapy student at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, and Chidinma Anakwenze, a medical student there, who spent a recent Saturday visiting a dozen black barber shops and beauty salons in downtown Birmingham. They gave out leaflets and took names.

Andra Sparks, a municipal court judge who was getting his hair cut at New Deal barbers, told them he knew several people who needed insurance and asked that Bama Covered send a representative to his office.

Down the street, at Fashion Hair Care, the front door was locked, the windows had bars, and though the two students could see women inside getting their hair done, no one answered their shouts. “It says ‘No Soliciting’; we probably shouldn’t be doing this,” said Ms. Anakwenze, who kept ringing the doorbell.

“You’re right,” Ms. Carter said, but she continued banging on a window anyway.

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Issue Brief: Young LGBTQ Adults and the ACA

How does the Affordable Care Act impact young LGBTQ adults? You’d be surprised!

Click here to download the full brief.

When you’re finished getting all the details, check out our infographic!

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