Seattle University's student newspaper since 1933

The Spectator

Seattle University's student newspaper since 1933

The Spectator

Seattle University's student newspaper since 1933

The Spectator

Students Not Won Over By Obamacare

From 2009 to 2013, it has been quite a roller coaster ride for President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act, better known as Obamacare. Signed into law by Obama on March 23rd, 2010, and upheld in the Supreme Court on June 28th, 2012, the law has since moved forward amidst questions and uncertainty in the efforts to make the act work for the public.

The goal was to provide insurance to all Americans, especially to those who needed it the most—youth. Students between the ages of 18 to 34 were seen as the group that needed the insurance, and the Obama administration worked to advertise the bill particularly to that age group.

As of December 2013, however, only 20 percent of the college student population had signed up for the Affordable Care Act (ACA). A number which is lower than what the Obama Administration had expected. Such could be a result of a number of things including receiving adequate insurance from other sources.

Amy Teresa, junior, junior, says, “I have insurance from the school.” Many universities provide insurance to students. In addition, retailers and other companies often provide insurance to their employees and that is another reason why this hasn’t appealed to students the way the lawmakers would have wanted.

Workers employed at companies like Fred Meyer and Safeway are insured through the employer and their insurances usually cover for 80 percent of the total costs.

The ACA dictates that students can stay on their parents’ insurance until the age of 26 regardless of their marital status. This makes it easier for students to have access to insurance.

Avery Caruthers, junior, stated that she too is on her parents’ insurance and also pointed out that students may not have a lot of knowledge about Obamacare, despite the effort by the advertisement campaigns.

Louisa Edgerly, a professor of communications and journalism at Washington University, pointed out that enrollment may be slow because students often work multiple jobs and focus mainly on getting by and paying bills. She worked with students in a communication leadership program to interview young people about this very topic, finding that answers were varied.

“Several people we spoke to were also very skeptical about both the for-profit insurance industry and its ability to deliver truly affordable insurance plans, and about the U.S. health care industry, with its opaque schemes, non-transparent pricing of services, and confusing rules and regulations,” Edgerly said. “So, this attitude seems to have made them reluctant or slower to sign up for individual plans through the health exchange services.”

However, Anis Beyzaee, a student of Bellevue College plans to sign up. The cost of having insurance under the ACA could be zero depending on the income and the size of the family, he said—a piece of information not known to all.

“From what we heard in our research project, many young adults do not have much information about exactly what is available to them now through the ACA,” Edgerly said in an email. “Information is out there, and they could find it if they searched, but the motivation to search for it seems to be low among relatively healthy young adults.”

Washington state has had over 69,000 people sign up for Obamacare and is considered to be one of the states where the ACA has tasted success.

Even with the glitches in the system that made online application difficult and forced the White House to make official statements, the Affordable Care Act seems to have picked up and even though the initial signups says a different story, it’ll change with time. Considering the fact that we have more insured people than we did yesterday, we need to give this time to see how it plays out and whether or not it appeals to our student body remains a question that will be answered in the future.

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