Students talk Obamacare
Non-traditional students at UA share their opinions on the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and how it will impact their lives.
Obamacare or the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act has been the subject of debate across social media platforms, dinner tables and cocktail parties since it was signed into law by President Barrack Obama in March 2010.
Since one of the provisions of Obama’s health care reform allows dependent children to remain on their parents’ health insurance policy until the age of 26, it is unlikely that many of the University of Alabama’s undergraduate population will be affected by it.
On Jan. 1, 2014 a provision will go into effect that will require all U.S. Citizens and legal immigrants to have health coverage or pay a penalty.
One group that the new health care reform policy affects the most is the non-traditional student population at UA. These students are typically parents, themselves, and working one or more part-time jobs while trying to finish their undergraduate education. One such student is Amory Harris, a 46-year-old single mom trying to finish her Advance Social Work degree.
She works two part-time jobs and has no insurance. Her son receives Medicaid insurance. She has two adult children that are now living on their own. Her 22-year-old son is a full-time student at Shelton State Community College and works part-time at a restaurant. He is considering joining the military for the health care benefits.
Harris said that since she does not get sick often she has not given much thought to how Obamacare would affect her or her family. She thought it would affect people on the edge of poverty, the ones that were barely making a living and still would not be able to afford health insurance premiums.
“I still need more information before I can decide if Obamacare is a good or bad,” Harris said. “I personally support Obama. I think this country does need health care reform, and I do think that some of the provisions may need some work.”
Amy Davis, a 40-year-old single mother of two and first year graduate student in the College of Education, only has major medical coverage. She almost ended up with pneumonia because she waited so long to seek medical treatment due to the lack of coverage her policy provides, she said.
Davis, like Harris is a full-time student and works part-time. Davis pays her health insurance premiums out of her pocket and it went up to $25 a month starting in January, she said.
Her primary motivation for returning to school is to earn her teaching certification and Master’s degree in secondary education, so that she can teach and be eligible for affordable health insurance coverage for her family.
“I had never been without what I call ‘good’ health insurance for any period of time until my husband lost his job in Jan. 2009,” recalls Davis. “He had been with the same company for almost 14 years and we had the best insurance ever.”
Once she moved to Alabama and filed for divorce, Davis realized it was a struggle to find affordable health insurance without employer backing.
“It doesn’t surprise me that so many people are uninsured,” Davis said.
Davis explained that Obamacare would not affect her at all, as she has reconciled with her ex-husband and will be covered under his medical insurance.
“Overall, I think reform is needed,” Davis said. “I know too many people with pre-existing conditions or conditions the insurers will not cover that need to be addressed. Too many times, children are the ones that are not covered and that is just wrong. I do think Obama’s plan needs some work, but I think any plan of that scope is going to need some work to get it just right. It may take a while to get to where it needs to be.”
For complete list of the provisions and a time line as to when provisions will take effect, go to http://healthreform.kff.org/timeline.aspx