Open enrollment for Covered California began Tuesday, Oct. 15, allowing all California residents the opportunity to purchase health insurance at affordable rates. For those who do not have health insurance or want to switch providers, this is the ideal time to compare different plans and decide what kind of coverage they need.
Some college students may wonder if they qualify for coverage. The passage of former President Barack Obama’s health care law in 2010 guarantees health care to all residents, regardless of financial or personal circumstances. Covered California was created as a result of this law, otherwise known as the Affordable Care Act or “Obamacare.”
It is illegal for an insurance company to discriminate based on a person’s medical history or pre-existing conditions under the act. Covered California and the Marketplace offer a variety of plans centered around catering to individual medical needs.
The Marketplace is a service that allows people to compare different plans from different providers. Prospective customers can browse through plans year round, but can only enroll during the open enrollment period. A list of exceptions may allow some people to enroll outside of the open enrollment period, which is available here.
Under the 2010 health care law, students can remain under their parent’s insurance plan until the age of 26. Though, coverage may vary between healthcare providers and employers, depending if a student is part-time or full-time. When a student is no longer eligible for their parent’s insurance, they can purchase insurance via the Marketplace on Covered California’s website.
While the longevity of “Obamacare” has raised doubt following a recent court appeal earlier this year to invalidate the whole program, those enrolled do not need to worry. A spokesperson for the Centers of Medicare and Medicaid Services confirmed that the Affordable Care Act is a current law and coverage is available for those who qualify.
To qualify for Marketplace insurance, an individual must make a minimum of $17,000 annually. If a student’s yearly income is below that amount, there are several alternative options.
The first is to apply for Catastrophic Insurance. It is available to those under 30 and guarantees coverage in case of a serious accident or illness.
Another option is to enroll in Medi-Cal, which can be done year round. Medi-Cal is a free or low cost insurance option that covers what are deemed essential health benefits. These include, but are not limited to vision and dental, prescription drugs and emergency services. More information about who qualifies and how to enroll can be found here.
Insurance seekers may qualify to receive financial assistance through a premium tax credit or subsidy. Eligibility is determined based on a household’s income.
Unemployed students can still apply for health insurance. Marketplace eligibility is determined by income, not employment. Medi-Cal is a recommended option if a student receives unemployment benefits or does not file taxes.
Green card holders, refugee and asylum seekers and those with a temporary visa are also eligible to obtain insurance from the Marketplace. Information regarding an individual’s immigration status is only used for insurance purposes and will not be given to immigration enforcement.
In addition, Fullerton College has many resources for campus wellness. Hornets have full access to the Student Health Center for various medical services like medication, laboratory tests and mental health counseling. A detailed list can be found on their website.
Those struggling to provide nutritious meals for themselves and their families can visit the FC Food Bank.
Food Bank worker Jose Verdin assures students that, “if they feel like they’re alone, they’re not alone. We’re here to help . . . and let them know that they can ask for help. To break that barrier for them, even going forward beyond the food bank.”
Their services can be found in Room 1955, Tuesday and Wednesday, from 12-2 p.m. and 4-6 p.m. More information is available on their webpage.
There are many options when it comes to finding affordable health care and wellness services. Those interested in enrolling for Covered California have until Tuesday, Jan. 21 to apply for the 2020 year. For more information, visit: www.coveredca.com and www.healthcare.gov.