October kicked off with a new marketplace for health insurance plans said to benefit all Americans.
Apart from the technical difficulties with the website (healthcare.gov) students and other applicants are now stuck trying to decide which plan is better for them and how they will pay for it.
When it comes to choosing a plan, Marilyn Garcia, a navigator who assists students with the applying process, advises to “look at the deductible, the premiums, your medical needs, and take your time to pick something affordable for you.”
The new health care plans are broken up into the categories of bronze, silver, gold, and platinum. All plans include the essential health benefits such as maternity care, emergency visits, addiction treatment, and more.
However, the difference is the percentage of expenses covered by each plan. The more the insurance pays toward your health care the less you’ll have to pay for deductibles, copayment, and coinsurance. But the more coverage your plan provides, the more you’re required to pay in the monthly premium fee.
When looking to purchase a plan, keep a few things in mind. If you get the higher-level packages, Gold or Platinum, the premium will be higher, but doctor visits and filling prescription will cost less. If you get the lower level package, Bronze and Silver, your monthly premium will be lower, but filling prescriptions and doctor visits will cost more.
It is also important to apply before the March 31 deadline to avoid tax penalties. The penalty is $95 if you are not married, if you do not have any dependents, and your income is less than $19,500. If your income is higher, you’ll need to pay 1 percent of the amount your income surpasses the sum of a single person’s personal exception and standard deduction in federal income tax, according to Forbes magazine.
Professor Bruce Wilensky, of the Communications Department, believes the new plan is worthwhile despite the troubles the web site has caused. “If ‘Romneycare’ worked on a state wide basis in Massachusetts, there’s no reason why a larger version of it, as Obamacare, can’t work for the entire country,” he said.
Some students, however, are still skeptical about how it will actually work.“It’s a little bit concerning to think that the ‘Obamacare’ is supposed to be this new change that’s supposed to help everybody,” said Marisa Dos Santos, a social work major and volunteer for “Lift the Bronx.” Her job entails assisting people with the decision making process. She said that she has not received any directions about how to orient people about how to navigate the exchanges. She says, “How am I supposed to relay the information to those who come into agencies or for people who ask questions if I don’t understand?”
Students who are uncertain about how to apply for a health plan or have any questions, can visit the Health Service Center located in T-3, on Wednesdays from 10:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. and on Thursdays from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.