H-CENTRAL COAST

Oct 2, 2013 9:55 PM by April Hansen, KSBY News

How the Affordable Care Act affects college students

While Washington is at a stand still, Obama's new healthcare program is moving forward. Uninsured Americans are required to have health insurance by next year, including college students. Every uninsured American over the age of 18 has until March of 2014 to sign-up for a health care plan. The Affordable Care Act allows young adults to stay on their parents' health care plan until they are 26, but there are a percentage of local college students that don't have insurance at all and some don't know where to get it. "In 2014, you have to get healthcare," said Brooklyn Taylor. "It has to do with health insurance and it's suppose to help people afford healthcare easier," said Alaina Freison. These are a few reactions from students at Allan Hancock College after we asked them if they were familiar with the Affordable Care Act. Some say they've heard of it. "It goes into affect now through March and goes into affect next year," Alaina Freison. But others admitted they don't know much about it. "They gave me papers at work at Applebee's and I know that you have to do a process and know what's available to you.," said David Pompa. Hancock's health center did a survey last semester that found 30 percent of it's students don't have health insurance. That's about 3,000 students. "There's a large population of uninsured students," said health center coordinator Alex Bell. Bell is a nurse for the health center. She says students looking for insurance need to know their options and sign-up or pay a tax penalty. "We are trying at the health center to get the word out and get information to students so they can enroll and get health insurance and get coverage," said Bell. Bell says the best resource for students is online. "They can put in their income. Get all the options and enroll in health coverage of their choice," said Bell. If a student can't afford insurance, they may be eligible for Medicaid, which is based on income and family size. If you are eligible you get free or low cost care. This plan varies by state. A spokesperson for Covered California, which is the state's health insurance exchange website says the enrollment portion was taken offline last night because of technical glitches, but was back up this morning.

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