The Affordable Care Act, now commonly known as “Obamacare,” will be put into full effect in 2014.
For the students at Cal State Fullerton, this will have little effect on the services offered in the Student Health and Counseling Center (SHCC), but method of payment is another story.
Anthem Blue Cross, the current health insurance provider to Cal State students, has announced that they will be withdrawing services from the California State University in 2014 as a result of the universal health care mandated by the Affordable Care Act, according to Kathy Spofford, associate director of the SHCC.
She speculated that when healthcare is government-mandated, students will find more health insurance policies available to them that “will be cheaper and cover more.”
As a result, the SHCC could possibly lose programs such as Family PACT (Planning, Access, Care and Treatment), a Medi-Cal-funded program founded specifically for pregnancy prevention and promoting reproductive health for those who could either not afford these services before or wish to remain confidential.
Mary Becerra, director of health education and promotion, said CSUF currently gets reimbursed from the state for services provided under Family PACT, but that could change.
“The scope of that program could change because the federal government is now mandating certain changes nationwide and reproductive health care in another one of those areas that could change,” she said.
Becerra also said that although Family PACT may cease to exist, the services offered in the SHCC will not change; what will change is “how we provide it.”
The on-campus clinic has operated in the past for years without Family PACT and its services are not dependent on how the state legislature decides to interpret the Affordable Care Act.
However, if the program is discontinued on the CSU campuses, Becerra predicted there will still be “a minimal cost to the students.”
Students like Andrea Diaz, a kinesiology major and Family PACT member, encourage her peers to take advantage of on-campus health care.
“You pay for it in your tuition and since it’s paid for you might as well use it,” she said.
Under the Affordable Care Act, Spofford said, “You are not mandated to have this insurance if: your income is below the federal tax filing threshold ($9,500 per year), you are undocumented or the cost (of insurance) exceeds 8 percent of your income.”
“A lot of our students are going to fall into this category,” she said.
According to SHCC surveys, an estimated 70 percent of students currently have some form of health insurance (including Anthem Blue Cross) and just below 40 percent of the campus uses the services in the SHCC. Of the 40 percent, it is estimated that 50 percent of those students have their own insurance.
Uninsured students use the SHCC for basic health and are able to gain access to insurance through qualifying through programs such as Family PACT. The students who are already insured, most often on their parents’ plan, continue to see their normal family physician, Spofford said.
One of the changes benefiting students in this position, under the Affordable Care Act, is that individuals can stay on their parents’ insurance plans until they reach age 26, whether or not they are enrolled in school.
Another thing the SHCC offers to students who are under their parents’ insurance plan is patient confidentiality.
“You are treated as a full-on adult here and nobody gets your records without you saying they can get them,” Spofford said.
Many of the exact ramifications of Obamacare on the SHCC are remain to be determined.
A committee of directors of the 23 student health centers across the CSU will be meeting in early December to continue to discuss the direction that the CSU schools will go with the ever evolving puzzle of student health insurance.
David Hood contributed to this report.