Yesterday President Barack Obama delivered his 2013 State of the Union address to millions of Americans. One of First Lady Michelle Obama’s special guests was former University of Minnesota student Abby Schanfield. Schanfield is a member of TakeAction Minnesota’s health care team, a grassroots organization that advocates for change that matters to Minnesotans including economic and health care reform.
Schanfield suffers from a rare congenital disease called Toxoplasmosis. Thankfully she was covered under her parent’s health insurance and was able to receive the care she needed. With the passage of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), Schanfield will continue to be covered under her parent’s plan until she’s 26.
“For many college students and college graduates, having continuous and affordable health insurance coverage comes at an important period in their lives as they look for jobs and explore other opportunities,” said Lynn Blewett, Ph.D., professor, Division of Health Policy and Management, School of Public Health. “For many graduates, the first job out of college, especially now in a time of slow economic growth, may be a low-wage job, retail or service industry or even part-time job that is less likely to offer health insurance coverage. Having the option to stay on a parents’ plan eliminates one worry for students, graduates and their parents.”
The ACA also safeguards people like Schanfield after they turn 27.
“For people like Schanfield, who have a serious health condition, a so-called pre-existing condition, health insurance plans cannot deny her coverage when she turns 27 and needs to find her own health plan,” said Blewett. “They also cannot charge her a higher premium based on her health condition. These provisions start in 2014. Health care is critical for patients like Schanfield and having a good plan with prevention services as well as coverage or hospital care are critical components of the ACA essential health benefits.”
So what’s next for the ACA?
“It is real stories like this that make us all aware of how fragile our lives are and how important affordable health care coverage is for all Americans. States are working round-the-clock to set up their health insurance exchanges and establish the rules for health plans who want to participate in the exchange. The goal is to have them up and running on January 1, 2014,” Blewett concluded.
To learn more about Schanfield’s story and how the ACA is helping her, be sure to watch this video.
Health Talk will continue to keep you updated on more ACA developments as they unfold.