Reaching out on campus, where not everyone is on mom’s plan

Most college students are covered by their parents’ health insurance plans, which (thanks to the Affordable Care Act) provide benefits until young adults turn 26. Yet, data from The Urban Institute estimate that nearly one in five college students would remain uninsured, unable to join a parent’s plan.

Poster for a symposium at UW Health Sciences center

Poster for a symposium at UW Health Sciences center

That number presents a double opportunity for students at University of Washington — to enroll, and to become enrollment activists.

Alerting the (student-run) presses
One student who is deeply involved is Inderpal Virk, a practicum student with the executive masters program in the UW School of Public Health. As he explained to The Daily, UW’s student-run newspaper, Virk is coordinating work with Public Health — Seattle & King County, UW Medicine, “Young Invincibles,” and other organizations.

They’re trying to spread the word about Washington Healthplanfinder, the state’s version of the online marketplace where students can compare and enroll in health care plans.

“Young people always think that they’re young and healthy and don’t need insurance,” Virk said. “We don’t know when we’re going to get sick or when we’re going to get hurt. … With my background in medicine, my main concern is [that students are taking] preventative efforts.”

Other campus advocates are not loving some of the language and labels being used.

“They call us the ‘young invincibles’ — and of course, we hate that term. No one wants to be reduced to a category,” wrote Student Public Health Association leaders Susana Tat and Kristen Savage, in an Oct. 18 op-ed in The Daily.

But, despite their criticism of the state’s marketing campaign targeted at their peers, they say most students really do want affordable insurance, and so they urge others to help get the word out.

“…we all know someone who is uninsured — either on campus or off. And that is enough reason to know how to get insured and what new options are available.

“So let’s live up to our (contrived) nickname. Those of us with the Student Public Health Association are happy to be invincible — but we know the only way to get there is by taking advantage of the health care we deserve.”

Getting behind health care
As interest builds on one of the most socially-conscious college campuses, students might wonder how they can learn more about the legislation behind the Washington Health Benefit Exchange and steps they can take to get involved. At the following events, they can do both.

“Affordable Care Act – How You Can Make a Difference” Symposium
Hogness Auditorium, Oct. 29, 5-6 pm.

Healthplanfinder Enrollment Tour
University of Washington Campus, Nov. 12, 11am-2pm.

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