Affordable Care Act draws mixed opinions

By Daisy Rodrigues

Sophomore Soloman Ocran speaks with health care agent Sarah Conklin about new insurance policies March 11.

Photo by Daisy Rodrigues
Sophomore Soloman Ocran speaks with health care agent Sarah Conklin about new insurance policies March 11.

As the March 31 deadline approached, the market place saw a spike in Americans signing up for insurance policies.

In his speech April 1, President Obama said 7.1 million Americans have signed up for health insurance through the market place. An additional 3 million young adults gained insurance under their family’s plan.

Others also gained access through Medicaid expansion and the Children’s Health Insurance Program.

Affordable health care agent Sarah Conklin visited campus to make students aware of the new health care law.

"With the deadline approaching, we want to get many people to enroll," Conklin said.

"We are able to get as many students as we can and get the word out."

"It is not surprising that many consumers are confused and are now trying to understand what health reform does…and how it may affect our families," President of Consumer Reports Jim Guest, said.

The Affordable Care Act aims to make quality, affordable health insurance more accessible for Americans.

Not everyone is so excited about the law, though.

"I don't like the new health care because no one knows about it and it keeps on changing all the time, most students are in their parent’s insurance. The insurance counselors are targeting the wrong people," sophomore Kylea Dowland, said.

The Affordable Care Act was passed by Congress and signed by President Obama in March 2010.

The market place is an insurance store where people can compare plans and sign up for one of their choice, regardless of pre-existing conditions or medical history.

"There are different levels of coverage from basic up to the platinum," Conklin said.

"You can pick your premium out of pocket, that will tell you whether you qualify to sign up for Badger Care or Medicaid," Conklin said.

"I am suffering from relapsing multiple sclerosis... if I ever lose my policy I would be able to get another policy under the affordable health care, regardless of my condition," Conklin said.

"Instead of placing me at a high risk pool, which covers basically nothing, I could get the policy at a more affordable price."

Most Americans are required to have health insurance, whether they buy their own plan or stay under their parents’ policy.

"The coverage lets parents keep their young adult children on their policy until the age of 26 years," Conklin said.

People who fail to enroll will not be able to buy insurance again through the market place until the next open enrollment period later this year, Oct. 15 to Dec. 7.

Individuals who don’t sign up for insurance will also pay a tax penalty.

Before health reform, insurance companies could sell plans that did not cover important services like prescription drugs, maternity care, and mental health. The new health reform law requires insurance companies to cover these costs. This allows easier access to preventative care and annual checkups.

The law also includes financial regulations, such as insurance rebates. It also prohibits insurance companies from setting annual or lifetime limits on their policies, protecting those with major or long-term illness.

Those who have insurance through their employers can still use the market place to find a better and more affordable plan that is better suited for them.

"Depending on your income, you can get a subsidy to help pay for it, or tax credit. If you’re below poverty line, you can be covered," Conklin said.

Some states are expanding Medicaid to cover everyone with an income below 133 percent of the federal poverty level. Low income families in other states, such as Wisconsin, will not have this option.