Bill cures student’s concerns
One year later, Americans are celebrating the anniversary of The Affordable Care Act, which is still deemed as one of the most vigorously debated laws passed by Congress. Among those thrilled by the milestone in health care reform were Democrats, who won the tug-of-war legislative competition against republicans and college seniors graduating in May who will be the first young adults to benefit from the law.
United States Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius said in a conference call Friday, with 50 campuses nationwide, including UH, now every young adult can stay on their parents’ health care coverage until the age of 26.
“The class of 2011 will be the first to graduate with this new option,” Sebelius said. “And we think there are about 1.2 million young Americans who could gain insurance coverage as of this year as a result. And that means you’ll have some more choices.”
According to Sebelius everyone, including young adults, who joins a new insurance plan will receive key preventive care, such as immunizations and flu shots, without having to pay deductibles and co-pays. There’s also a new patient bill of rights outlawing the abuse of insurance companies.
“Insurance companies are now prohibited from capping the dollar amount of care you can receive in a lifetime or dropping your coverage due to a mistake on your application when you get sick.”
Lawmakers are also in the process of trying to end discrimination against people with preexisting conditions.
“It’s now illegal to deny coverage to children under the age of 19 with preexisting health conditions. So, if you have younger siblings with asthma or a disibilty, they can no longer be turned away by insurance companies. And by 2014, that protection will be extended to every American.”
Emily Schlichting, a soon-to-be University of Nebraska graduate who was diagnosed with Becet’s disease, advocated in favor of the Affordable Health Care during the conference call.
“My health care is really expensive,” she said. “I have spent multiple weeks in hospitals, blood tests on a regular basis, expensive medicine. It’s not something that I could ever really afford on my own, even with insurance, out of pocket, in a single-parent market, or individually would have just bankrupted me, especially as a young person. So when the Affordable Care Act was passed, a huge burden was lifted from my shoulders.”
Schlichting suffers from a rare condition, which requires a lot of care by medical professionals and causes terminal illness.
She was afraid she would be kicked off of her parents’ insurance once she graduated because of her preexisting condition, but with the new law in place she will still be covered under her parents’ insurance until she gets a job that offers health insurance.
“The second part of the law that really really helps me is the patients’ bill of rights,” Schlichting said. “Again, peace of mind, knowing that in three years we’ll not be able to be denied coverage because of an illness that I can’t control having. That should be something that was already in existence.”
Another part of the law, which could potentially help recent graduates, is the health insurance exchanges between states, which provides coverage options for individuals and small businesses, in an effort to make insurance more affordable and accessible for people who do not have employer-based insurance.
Once the entire health care bill has reached full implementation status, it will provide a hybrid of affordable insurance plans for young and older populations combined.
“The Affordable Care Act for me is not only the guarantee of security that I’ll have access to health care and the peace of mind that that brings,” Schlichting said. “But I really think it is an investment in America’s future and in our entire generation.”
The conference call was hosted by Campus Progress, an activist group based in Washington, which provides information for young people on their daily magazine website, campusprogress.org