UIHC helps students understand Affordable Care Act


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The University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics is targeting the concerns of many students and Iowa City community members about the Affordable Care Act in an attempt to ease confusion.

“This is part of the educational process,” said UI spokesman Tom Moore. “The more that people learn about what is available for them, the better decisions they will be able to make.”

Tuesday marked the first day of enrollment for the Affordable Care Act exchange market, in which uninsured Iowans can sign up for insurance under Iowa’s health-insurance exchange.

Moore said the UIHC has opened enrollment assistant centers staffed with social workers and financial counselors near the Primary Care Clinic North and in the emergency department. The staff will answer questions and help patients sign up for the insurance program that works best for them.

“We opened enrollment assistance centers so patients can sit down with someone who knows the options very well and can go over them in detail and really hone in on what option is best for them,” Moore said.

Moore also said people can seek more information online, through posters, brochures, and displays throughout the hospital.

The UIHC is in the process of developing similar services for UI Community Medical Services Clinics and at the Iowa River Landing location in Coralville.

Peter Damiano, the director of the UI Public Policy Center, said students need be informed about the key aspects of the Affordable Care Act.

“The thing about health care, and often with younger people, is they don’t really think about it until they need it,” he said. “Unfortunately, by that point, it’s too late.”

He said students should know that if their parents have health insurance, they are allowed to stay on their parents’ policies until age 26, regardless whether they have a job or if they are married.

UI junior Jordan Wilson said he will likely leave his parents’ insurance before he turns 26 and that undergraduate students have a responsibility to understand how this legislation will affect them later in life.

“It’s very important for undergrads to be knowledgeable on the subject because the tax implications coming with Obamacare and the fragile economy could play a major impact on the majority of us when we will be looking to start careers,” he said. “These next few years are very critical for us and our country.”

Under the act, adults who remain uninsured will face a fee. In 2014, the fee will be either 1 percent of the adult’s annual income or $95 — whichever is higher. Every subsequent year the fee percentage will rise. However, there are a variety of exceptions to this fees such as if a person’s income is so low they don’t file taxes.

As part of the launch of the exchange market, the federal government has introduced a health insurance marketplace website that allows the public to enter personal information and in turn receive an estimate for their health insurance coverage costs.

Damiano said he believes students will use the website because they are a more tech-savvy generation that regularly makes other decisions online.

“For students, one of the big differences is that students may feel more comfortable with an online system,” Damiano said. “But the question is if they feel like they are getting enough information in an online system to be able to make an educated decision on health insurance is what we will have to see.”

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