Preston’s Political Point: Obamacare Hurts Poor College Students Most

Preston’s Political Point: Obamacare Hurts Poor College Students Most

Artwork courtesy of Nate Beeler/Tribune News Service

The Affordable Care Act (ACA), also known as Obamacare, was signed into law March 23, 2010. With the 5-year anniversary looming, many Americans find themselves just now feeling the effects of the benefits and penalties. College students are the most negatively affected, though.

When applying for financial aid, your cost of attendance (COA) and estimated family contribution (EFC) are factored together to decide what sort of financial aid you are allowed to receive. But, the cost of mandated health insurance is not factored into your EFC, which means your parents or yourself, are shelling out money for something the government is requiring you to have, and not allowing you to account for that in your monthly or annual expenses.

Obamacare supporters often say the ACA will increase competition among markets, boost the economy, and provide lower coverage costs to the poor who were suffering before. However, allowing parents to cover their children until they are 26 years old hurts poor students more than any other provision in the ACA.

Students with poor parents likely took the $95 penalty, while wealthy students are currently relaxing with their parents’ health care. These wealthy students have 3 to 4 years, post-graduation, to find a job with benefits, while the poor students without insurance will be stuck signing up for whatever Obamacare packages are left.

Some packages carry premiums upwards of $10,000, or often times provided by insurance companies doctors are no longer accepting new patients from, leaving these poor students essentially uninsured and potentially facing a $695 penalty from the IRS for not having the mandated coverage.

In addition to these outrageous outcomes, most college students being 18 to 25 years old, who wished to sign up this past enrollment period, found themselves wondering why they were left without any discounted rates even with an estimated low-income for 2015. The reason is that young people are the people actually paying for this law. Older people really utilizing this program are not paying near as much as someone in their early twenties who rarely see a doctor or emergency care.

This overlooked fact is what hurts college students who pay for everything themselves. In turn, the ACA should not be affecting the future of America this way.

The ACA should be reworked to place higher coverage rates on the ones who are utilizing the medical coverage most to pay for cancer treatment, dialysis, blood pressure medication, and diabetes insulin, not on young Americans who typically do not need extensive health care, except for emergencies. These young people aren’t able to pay for everything and elderly health coverage. If an 80-year-old wants to live longer, they should pay to live longer; not a 20-year-old who is simply trying to avoid being penalized, and doesn’t actually use the coverage they receive.