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Politics & Government

UWM Students Take Advantage of ACA Deadline

Marti Mikkelson

Tuesday is the deadline for people to enroll in former President Obama’s signature health care plan, the Affordable Care Act. UW-Milwaukee has been urging students to enroll while they still can – if they are uninsured. We spoke with several who attended a recent sign-up session on campus.

Jacqueline Howell is a junior at UWM, majoring in global studies. She says she turned 26 this month and that meant she could no longer remain on her parents’ health insurance. The Affordable Care Act sets the limit at 26. So now, Howell has to sign up for her own plan.

“I want to make sure that I still have coverage and I don’t know if I would be able to afford any higher premiums than what’s already available,” Howell says.

The average ACA monthly premium for a 26-year-old woman in Wisconsin is about $95. Howell says it’s important for her to stay on top of her health care because she has a family history of breast cancer. She says she’s nervous about the fate of the ACA, as President Trump recently signed an executive order, stating his intention to repeal it. Howell says her concern led her to participate in several rallies in Milwaukee recently.

“By marching, that was my way of saying to President Trump that I will hold you accountable for these things,” Howell says. “What are students supposed to do? How are they supposed to get coverage if they need it? You don’t ever know when someone gets sick or something could happen. You have to be prepared for it.”

Jason Kim is a sophomore studying economics. He moved here from California and says his provider dropped him because it doesn’t cover people living in Wisconsin. So, Kim just signed up for a new plan through the federal exchange. He also is concerned about what comes next.

“If ACA is dropped, I hope they can find some other substitute for everyday people,” Kim says.

Another student here today is Kemari Lofton of Milwaukee, a freshman majoring in French education.

“I’m signing up because I haven’t had health insurance since October 2015 and I think being in college and all the stress I need to check on myself and make sure I’m okay physically,” Lofton says.

Lofton says she lost her coverage when she got dropped from her parents’ plan. She wants something, if even for only a short time.

“We can’t live for the future, we have to live for now, so the fact that we have it now, it makes sense to sign up,” Lofton says.

One person assisting in the enrollment is Campus Health Officer Julie Bonner. She says she spent a week persuading students to sign up, because some were wondering if they should even bother.

“Any day that someone is not insured is a day that we hope that they’re not going to need to access health care. There’s already a lot of debt involved with college students and medical bills can add up very quickly,” Bonner says.

Bonner says about 35 students signed up for the ACA at the campus event. She says fortunately, UWM’s Norris Health Center provides basic services for a low cost to students and doesn’t require them to have health insurance. But, some have significant health issues that extend beyond the center’s capabilities. Bonner says in those cases, she hopes the Trump administration makes sure young people still have a way to get the health care they need.

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