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Impact of the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) on College Students

In addition to figuring out how to pay for tuition, books, and housing, college students need to be aware of the impact of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), otherwise known as Obamacare, on their finances.

You’ve probably heard lots about this program, but there is still quite a bit of confusion and misunderstanding out there. The best way to approach this issue is to become informed about it. One reality is that the program will have a definite impact on health care insurance for students. One of the impacts is you will have more options to compare and contrast. You’ll need to figure out which option makes the most sense for you. One thing to know is that effective January 1, 2014 most people will need to have health insurance coverage that meets the requirement of the ACA, or pay a tax penalty.

If you are under 26 and your parents have health insurance that covers family members, the law allows you to stay on their plan in most cases. This is one very positive aspect of the ACA for young adults. We recommend that you check with your parents to see if this provision applies to you. If it does, staying on your parents’ plan might be the lowest cost option available to you. This coverage is available even if you are considered financially independent, and is available regardless if you are single or married. Costs for this coverage might go up, however, because many plans charge higher premiums when you add additional family members.

Check the provisions of your parents’ plan carefully if you are considering being covered by their plan. Some plans limit the physicians and other health care providers to those in their network. This is particularly true in the case of Health Maintenance Organizations (HMOs) and Preferred Provider Organizations (PPOs). If you attend school outside the community where your parents live, you might have to go to an out of network provider. This can result in less coverage or more expenses.

Another option to consider is the student health plan offered for students at KSU. In the past these plans had limits on their coverage. Limits on coverage is something that the ACA is addressing. According to Professor Roberta Riportella, Professor of Community Health at KSU, the KSU Student Health plan meets the requirement for coverage under the ACA. This could be a lower cost option for students that qualify for coverage. Check out the following website for info on this plan: https://www.uhcsr.com/SelfServiceSupport/Students/CollegeHome.aspx

A new feature of the ACA just now being rolled out is the online health insurance exchange. In this exchange you’ll be able to see the health insurance companies providing policies in your state. You’ll also be able to choose benefit packages ranging from basic coverage in the bronze plan to higher-level coverage in silver, gold, and platinum plans. You’ll pay more in premiums for the higher levels of coverage. You can access the health insurance exchange at the following link: https://www.healthcare.gov/

Professor Riportella has been very active in posting information to a blog that clears up a lot of the misinformation regarding the ACA. Her blog can be accessed here: https://blogs.ksre.ksu.edu/issuesinhealthreform/

Finally, Professor Riportella discusses the ACA and its impact on college students in the following archived recording from a session presented to students on November 5, 2013. If you missed her workshop you can check it out online. It would be worth your time to watch this informative session. The video at the beginning of her presentation covers a lot of the important info you need to know. Here is the link: http://www.k-state.edu/grad/students/workshops/aca.html

Rob Jones, M.A.Ed.
Peer Financial Counselor II
Powercat Financial Counseling
www.k-state.edu/pfc

Evaluating Employee Benefits and Perks

When considering a job offer, many people think the most important factor is the salary. Actually, it is just as critical to analyze the ‘secret’ money – benefits and perks that are offered by an employer. Some benefits to consider include a comfortable and casual work environment, flexible work schedules, an option to telecommute, gym memberships, tuition reimbursement, and a casual dress code.

Typical Employee Benefit Packages

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average number of annual paid holidays is 10.  Paid leave time also can include sick and maternity leave. Almost half of medium and large employers offered either a defined benefit or a defined contribution pension plan. But they may have some requirements. For example, you can join the plan after working a required number of years for the company. Or you must work for the company a certain number of years before you become “vested” and own the company contribution portion of your plan.

Every company has different requirements when they offer health insurance.  Some may require an initial premium payment  after which, the policy itself will cover you and your family.  Be sure when making insurance selections that you know whether or not the plan will include dental, vision or disability coverage and whether or not there will be any out-of-pocket expenses. Life insurance is also a common benefit associated with most insurance solutions. Employers usually provide an amount equal to a percentage of your annual salary for insurance needs with an additional option to purchase life insurance when necessary.

How to Evaluate Perks

Employers believe that an advantageous way to attract top employee talent is offering perks and benefits outside of the initial base salary. However, not all benefits are necessarily the best fit for you. The true value of perks being offered from the employer should be determined not by the overall quantity or dollar value, but by the benefits that make a true impact on the lifestyle you live. As an example, if living an active healthy lifestyle is important for you as an employee, it may be valuable to look for companies that offer gym memberships to employees. An extreme example of this would be looking for companies that have a gym inside of the office as this perk is becoming more and more popular in the modern day workplace.  Another example of perks would be companies that offer a flexible work schedule. If you are not a morning person, being able to come in later and be more productive creates a win-win situation for both parties! Just remember, when a company is a better fit for you, you are also a better fit for them.

 

Angela Li
Peer Counselor I
Powercat Financial Counseling
www.k-skate.edu/pfc
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