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The New University’s editorial “To and For Your Health” gets some things right and some things wrong about the Affordable Care Act, which is commonly referred to as Obamacare.

The editorial claims that most Americans are too jaded to read another story about health care. But, the numbers indicate that Americans are indeed interested in their new health insurance options. Many of the health insurance exchange websites were down because public demand for health insurance was much higher than expected. While most marketplaces will not be releasing their enrollment data until November, the IRS says that 1.3 million requests have already been made from the state and federal health insurance marketplaces for people signing up for health care.

The editorial also got some key parts of the law confused. California does not use the HealthCare.gov website to sign up its residents for health insurance. When the Affordable Care Act became a law, it required states to set up their own statewide marketplaces for health care. If a state did not set one up, the federal government stepped in to create one. This is why HealthCare.gov, the federal health insurance website, was created.

But California did set up its own health insurance marketplace; it resides at CoveredCA.com. Compared to the federal website, “Covered California” is doing much better. The site will soon include a tool to rate insurance plans by quality based on customer assessments from one to five stars, providing Californians with even more options to compare coverage.

The most important thing for young people to know is how they can get coverage. Up to 41 percent of young people ages 18-34 lack any kind of health insurance. CALPIRG, a statewide, student-run and student-funded nonprofit organization that has chapters at all the UCs, released a report “So You Need Health Insurance, Now What?” to give help and advice for young people who have questions about the Affordable Care Act.

As chapter chair of UCI’s CALPIRG, I’ve talked to many students who are happy we released a guide to help them learn about their new options. A transfer student I spoke with told me how she had to drop out of community college for a semester due to a mountain of medical bills. Because of the Affordable Care Act, young people will not have to sacrifice education for their health.

Most students at UCI are already covered under USHIP and don’t have to worry about finding health insurance. But as soon as we graduate, we will lose our student health insurance. Graduating students should know that for insurance plans beginning Jan. 1, 2014, insurance companies can no longer deny coverage to people with pre-existing conditions, and most people will be required to have insurance coverage or pay a fee. Through “Covered California,” consumers can compare plans and find out about financial help to lower the cost of insurance.

Getting coverage in California is pretty easy. People can apply online, by phone, or in person. Check out CoveredCA.com to see your options, and to see the full guide we released, check out CALPIRGStudents.org/HealthInsurance101. Lastly, if you want to help spread the word to young people about the ACA, get involved! Internships and volunteer opportunities are available for UCI students. Check out CALPIRGStudents.org/internships.

 

Derek Campfield is a fourth-year political science major. He is the Chapter Chair of CALPIRG and  can be reached at dcampfie@uci.edu.

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