Obamacare goes live online: Florida remains uncertain of its implications

Image by Vic, courtesy of Creative Commons

Cindy Osorto/Contributing Writer

President Barack Obama signed the Affordable Care Act on March 23, 2010. Three years later, the controversy and confusion regarding its implications continue.

Forty-two percent of Americans are unaware of the current state of the bill, according to a poll conducted by the Kaiser Family Foundation.

The bill is currently law, though not in its original form. The options for private health care managed under the federal government are now available. Tuesday, Oct. 1, Americans began exploring health care coverage options. On Jan. 1, 2014, the bill will take full effect.

As the issue stands, it will have both positive and negative effects on college students.

Elizabeth Foley, professor of law, opposes the bill.

“If you think about what this means, it means that they can’t force us to buy broccoli [health care], but they can tax us if we don’t [buy health care],” said Foley. “I have a problem with that.”

Citizens will be required to get health care or otherwise pay a tax, and the expansion of Medicaid has become a state option. While the Democratic party has heavily supported the health care bill, Republicans have heavily opposed it.  However, many individuals’ have mixed opinions for fear of effects the bill may have that may not yet be apparent.

In Florida, Republicans have taken a strong stand against Obamacare. In addition to the Medicaid and state exchange opposition decision, outreach workers known as navigators were recently banned from local health departments. Some county local health departments, such as Broward county, have argued that their citizens would be losing valuable information if the ban continues.

“I’m not holding my breath on an organized, comprehensive outreach the first few months after October,” said Daniel Irigoyen, engineering junior major. “Florida leadership has been staunchly against Obamacare being implemented in the state.”

“Banning navigator workers from county health centers is just one way to halt health care expansion,” he said, alluding to Gov. Rick Scott.

While many Republicans, especially in Florida, are waging war against Obamacare, many people continue to be uninformed.

Students may become affected in their work environments. Students working full-time may now be required to purchase a health care plan. Both part-time and full-time students may experience a cut in their hours due to shifts in their work. Many companies are in the process of assessing  any required adjustments due to the bill.

An insurance plan flyer at the Wellness Center, covered by the UnitedHealthcare insurance company now states that students should be aware that coverage plans may change in the upcoming months. The flyer states that students are advised to seek more information on whether they are eligible for a “group health plan of a parent’s employer or under a parent’s individual health insurance policy, if [they] are under the age of 26.”

Students interested in pursuing graduate school may now have one less financial worry in their mind.

“I’m hoping to fall into the category of people that will experience a minimal effect from health care. I’m currently covered under my parents’ health care and will likely find a future job that provides me health care,” said Greg Wise, a junior law student.

Many students are not insured. According to the U.S. Census Bureau’s Small Area Health Insurance Estimates for 2011, Florida had one of the highest percentages of uninsured people in the nation.

At a little under 25 percent of the state’s population of people under 65, there is a large amount of uninsured Floridians in need of health care information.

Jose Rivera, a junior international studies major, has no health insurance.

Although he supports the bill in theory, he believes the bill is not receiving enough funding to be implemented.

“I had a surgery on my right arm from five years ago and one of my thumbs has been dislocated. I would like to get myself checked out but I just can’t afford a $300 X-ray,” Rivera said.

To find more information, you can search healthcare.gov.


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