Written by Maria C. Serrano/Staff Writer
With the ObamaCare enrollment deadline only a couple weeks away, FIU will host its final Health Insurance Information Enrollment Event at the Biscayne Bay Campus Feb. 7.
For the past year, FIU Health, Student Health Services, and FIU Law set a campaign on the Affordable Care Act to inform the FIU Community on their health insurance options.
As part of the plan, this year, the FIU departments/divisions started a collaborative effort with the Patient Protection Affordable Care Act (PPACA) workgroup, Enroll America and Health Council of South Florida to bring as much health information as possible to FIU campuses.
Based on a survey done by 460 students by the FIU Healthcare Network on August 2014 during Week of Welcome, 70 percent of them were insured — 47 percent of them through their parents’ health insurance plans.
According to University alumna Natalie Castellanos, the supervising attorney in FIU Law’s Medical-Legal Partnership Clinic, students, faculty, staff and relatives sit down with federally-certified in-person-assisters to guide them through the application process.
She said they offer free guidance so they can get covered before the Feb. 15 deadline. They present different health insurance plans and help determine if the person is eligible for financial assistance whether for first-time enrollment, or to re-enroll.
Milton Vázquez, Field Organizer of Enroll America, said, “Federally-certified in-person-assisters (sic) can offer counsel about the intricacies of health insurance.”
“So that the FIU Community (sic) can not only get covered, but understand what their coverage means and how they can make the most of it,” Vázquez said.
Similar events held previously at FIU have helped to open up the dialogue about the importance of having health insurance and create awareness about the Affordable Care Act.
“The students (sic) could have to pay a fine of $395 or 2% of their taxable income, whichever is greater,” Milton said. “This is in addition to the hundreds of dollars they could have to spend on doctor’s visits and prescription medicines, even for simple illnesses.”
According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, many adults fall into a “coverage gap” of having incomes below the lower limit for Marketplace premium tax credits but above Medicaid eligibility limits, and this includes some FIU students.
Roberto Rodriguez, a junior music major, “I don’t make any money and the State of Florida has no Medicaid, so I am exempt from having Obama Care, but, at the same time, I do not qualify for Medicaid.”
For students like Roberto who have limited options because they fall in the Medicaid gap, the event team informs them about their FIU Student Health Fee, and all other primary care services available to them on campus, either free of charge or for a nominal fee.
“Healthcare can be very complicated and expensive,” said Mariela V. Gabaroni, Associate Director of Student Health Services.
“Not having health insurance when one has a medical or (sic) health care need can have significant financial, and ultimately academic impact, for our students,” said Mariela.
The event team also works to let the FIU Community know that the student health fee they pay each semester is not an insurance plan.
It provides prevention, on-campus primary care, and mental health services during the semester they are paid by the student, but there is no more coverage beyond that.
According to Milton, the average monthly premium paid by Floridians who received assistance through the marketplace was $68 in the last enrollment period.
“So far this enrollment period, 94% of those who have enrolled in this state have received assistance,” said Milton.
For information about what documentation is needed to complete the enrollment process at the event, students can visit: http://studenthealth.fiu.edu/insurance-and-fees/afforablecare/FIU_Health_Insurance_Information_Enrollment_Event.html