Campus health coverage reformed

Covered California, the marketplace for the Affordable Care Act, can now be used to provide students and faculty with health care alternatives.

Employees of Chico State received a notice from human resources stating that they may choose to retain their current health care plan and that some are not eligible to receive certain tax credits afforded under the bill.

This is because Chico State offers health care that meets the minimum standard set by the Affordable Care Act, a controversial bill that instituted federally-mandated insurance. Under the new bill, payments for health insurance may not exceed 9.5 percent of an individual’s yearly income.

Workers whose wages vary from week to week, such as hourly employees or those that work on a commission basis, may still qualify for a premium discount on insurance.

In order to be eligible for employer-based coverage under Covered California, employees must be working at least half-time with a length of appointment for six months and one day or have at least six weighted teaching units for one semester, according to the notice sent out by Chico State’s human resources department.

“The implementation of the Affordable Care Act will supplement the health care generally available to students, but will not affect any health care options offered at the health center,” said Deborah Stewart,  chief of staff at the Student Health Center.

The center offers many services, including X-rays, lab tests, preventative health services, visits with clinicians and a pharmacy, Stewart said. However, it is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. most days and is closed Saturdays and Sundays. This leaves a gap in medical service that forces students to seek medical attention elsewhere.

“So, if a student falls and injures herself and needs care at an emergency room, student fees do not cover the visit, and if the student does not have additional health insurance, she is liable for the often thousands of dollars of charges an emergency department visit can cost,” Stewart said.

While the thought of paying for additional health insurance on top of tuition may seem daunting, Stewart emphasizes the importance of supplementary health insurance.

“Students should know that the student health service sees students needing additional health insurance coverage every day who don’t really realize it,” Stewart said. “We urge students to take advantage of the opportunity afforded students via the Affordable Care Act. And do it soon.”

Under the Affordable Care Act, individuals will be covered under their parent’s insurance until the age of 26.

Middle and lower income students and families may qualify for financial assistance to cover health insurance costs, according to a post on the California State University.

“California State University has partnered with Covered California to make sure we, across all of our campuses, are informed about the changes that are coming,” said Timothy White, chancellor of California State University. “You will soon be seeing students on your campus that are helping to educate and enroll members of our community.”

Associated Students, however, will not be involved.

“We are actually bound in our bylaws that we cannot support any political propaganda or politically affiliated groups,” said Taylor Herren, the Associated Students president. “It’s not necessarily that we do or don’t support, its just that we can’t take a side on anything.”

 

Jesse Severin can be reached at [email protected] or theorion_news on Twitter.