What you need to know about the Affordable Care Act


Vanessa Nagel


Each new year is rung in with new resolutions, new benefits and new budgets. The Affordable Care Act is no exception in 2014. Beginning Jan. 1, if employers do not offer insurance plans, consumers will be able to buy insurance directly from the Health Insurance Marketplace.

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the Marketplace will offer a choice of health plans that meet certain benefits and cost standards.

The law doesn’t generate insurance, but expands public health insurance options and creates a subsidized, regulated marketplace to purchase private insurance coverage.

Various covered benefits affect student health including mental and behavior health services in addition to contraceptive methods. A significant benefit of the law is that most insurers cannot deny coverage or raise prices due to a pre-existing condition including cancer or insulin-dependent diabetes.

Vivianne Velazquez/Photographer After the Affordable Care Act passed in January, students are encouraged to pay attention to the effects and benefits it brings.

Vivianne Velazquez/Photographer
After the Affordable Care Act passed in January, students are encouraged to pay attention to the effects and benefits it brings.

Under the law most individuals who can afford it will be required to obtain basic health coverage or pay a fee to help offset the costs of caring for uninsured Americans. If affordable coverage is not available to an individual, he or she will be eligible for an exemption.

Senior finance, law and insurance major Karoline Kniss said the Affordable Care Act has been a hot topic in her coursework.

“It is a major topic because it’s new, the law changes the nature of the health insurance industry and learning about the law enables students to understand how important insurance is to society,” Kniss said.

“Many of us are at the age where we must start planning ahead, and the Affordable Care Act has a significant role in our decisions concerning budgeting, health coverage and political beliefs.”

The Affordable Care Act has stirred controversy among American citizens, but one aspect that has received positive feedback from the student population is that the new law tolerates parents keeping their children insured on their healthcare plan until age 26.

“With a volatile job market, students can find some relief knowing they can have healthcare if their parents or guardians purchase coverage.”

“If a graduate plans on becoming completely independent and their employer does not offer healthcare, the Affordable Care Act Marketplace has many pricing and coverage options that fit graduates with any income,” Kniss said.

The Affordable Care Act has caused gains and losses across all demographics thus far. In regard to recent graduates, some employers are decreasing the number of full-time employees to escape from providing mandated healthcare coverage.

Citizens who cannot afford to purchase from the Marketplace will essentially face fines. Wealthy individuals will pay more for insurance than those with lower incomes.

The elderly will have a lower cost of insurance due to increased pricing for healthy, young adults. Senior citizens generally require more care than young adults and do not necessarily have appropriate income to support that care. Certain coverage plans provided through the Affordable Care Act may conflict with religious beliefs.

“Funding research and providing healthcare can contribute to a healthier society and to improvements in health sciences. I am not sure how effective the government’s implementation of the law will be, especially when politics can interfere with long-term success,” Kniss said.

“Overall I think the law is for the greater good, and our government will have to find a way for it to work with Americans for years to come.”

Kniss believes students need to be proactive in understanding the Affordable Care Act and how it will affect them directly.

“My advice would be to do your research. There are many different opinions about the law because it affects everyone in different ways. By finding information about the Affordable Care Act that correlates with your needs and beliefs you can make the best educated decision for yourself,” Kniss said.

For more information about the Affordable Care Act, visit

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