Affordable Care Act Q-and-A
Thursday, November 7, 2013
Whether you are an undergraduate, graduate or international student, the Affordable Care Act may impact you or a member of your family. Catherine DeFrancesco, USC student health administrator and director of student health plans, answers these questions students and their families are asking.
Q. How long can students stay on their parents’ health insurance plan?
A. The Affordable Care Act requires that young people up to the age of 26 can stay on their parents’ health plans as dependents. Both married and unmarried children qualify for this coverage.
Q. Are USC students required to have health insurance?
A. Yes. The university requires that all students have supplemental health insurance to help cover the cost of health care that cannot be obtained at the health center. Students can either enroll in the USC Student Health Insurance Plan, or they can waive their enrollment by providing documented proof of health coverage from another plan that meets all waiver requirements. Students carrying less than 6 units are not automatically charged for the USC plan, but they can enroll online through USC Oasis before the semester starts.
Q. What are the insurance options for California undergraduate students, particularly those who are not getting coverage through their parents?
A. Our undergraduate students can choose the USC Student Health Insurance Plan, waive out of it if they have comparable coverage, or shop for coverage at the Covered California exchange (coveredca.com). Students can stay insured with us the entire time they are studying here at USC.
Q. What are the insurance options for out-of-state domestic students and international students?
A. All USC students are eligible to enroll in the USC Student Health Insurance Plan. Students are also eligible to shop for insurance in the states where they meet the residency requirements of the Affordable Care Act. To find out what state marketplace or exchange they should access, they can go to healthcare.gov. If students want to compare coverage, they can call their current insurance providers or get information about their state exchange plans and then compare them to the USC plan by going to “Understand Insurance and Waivers” on our Website at usc.edu/engemann. Or they can email their questions to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Q. Are international students eligible for coverage in California?
A. We have confirmed that most international students who are residing in California to attend school – who are here on a legal visa – will be able to shop for insurance on the Covered California exchange. There are residency and particular visa requirements, but we believe that most will not have difficulty obtaining coverage on the marketplace/exchange plans. If international students do experience problems, they can contact us at email@example.com.
Q. What are the insurance options for graduate students?
A. All graduate students are eligible to purchase the USC Student Health Insurance Plan, but they can also compare their options in the Affordable Care Act marketplace/exchanges in their states. Student can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org if they have questions. PhD students and graduate assistants will continue to receive health and dental insurance through the USC Student Health Insurance Plan as part of their USC compensation package.
Q. How does the USC Student Health Insurance Plan compare to other plans?
A. The USC plan is likely to be the most affordable and most accessible. It’s comprehensive and it meets all federal mandates for coverage. But it goes beyond that, offering a lower deductible, lower copays and lower annual out-of-pocket maximum expenses.
Q. What if students need to insure their spouses, domestic partners or dependent children?
A. The USC Student Health Insurance Plan does not offer coverage for dependents any longer. Students who want to purchase insurance for their spouses, domestic partners or dependents should shop on the state insurance marketplace/exchange as outlined above. If they need assistance, they should contact Engemann staff at email@example.com.
Q. Are international students eligible for coverage in California?
A. I have confirmed that most international students who are residing in California to attend school – who are here on a legal visa – will be able to shop for insurance on the Covered California exchange. There are residency and particular visa requirements, but we believe that most will not have difficulty obtaining coverage on the marketplace/exchange plans. If international students do experience problems, they can contact us at b.well@usc.
Q. What insurance plans are available through the Affordable Care Act?
A. Across the country the products are bronze, silver, gold and platinum. In California we have six different companies that are selling insurance. If a taxpayer qualifies for a subsidy to purchase this insurance, the subsidy will be applied during the online enrollment process at the state marketplace/exchange Website. Subsidies cannot be used to purchase the USC Student Health Insurance Plan.
Q. How do the four plans (bronze, silver, gold and platinum) compare?
A. The names of these plans refer to different levels of coverage with platinum policies generally charging the highest monthly premiums but also providing the lowest copayments, deductibles and other out-of-pocket costs. By contrast, as you run through gold, silver and bronze, the premiums go down but the copayments, deductibles and other out-of-pocket costs rise.
Q. Can any of the Covered California plans be used to waive the USC Student Health Insurance Plan?
A. USC is in the process of reviewing the insurance waiver criteria. We already have determined that most silver, gold and platinum plans will be acceptable for waiver if they provide full access to comprehensive care in Southern California and are not just access to emergency care. To be sure, students should contact firstname.lastname@example.org before they purchase plans.
Q. Who is eligible for a health insurance subsidy?
A. Subsidies are based on income and so are the deductibles and out-of-pocket expenses. Once you enter your own demographic, income and age data on the marketplace/exchange Website, the software program on that Website will give you individual pricing, deductibles and other information.
Q. Do these new plans provide vision and dental coverage?
A. The USC Student Health Insurance Plan covers vision and has optional dental insurance. The Affordable Care Act mandates coverage for some children’s dental care (through age 18). Vision and dental coverage may be included in some plans offered on the state marketplaces or offered as stand-alone policies, but requirements for this coverage vary by state.
Q. If a student has a pre-existing condition, will it affect coverage?
A. It does not. We have no pre-existing clause on our USC Student Health Insurance Plan. The Affordable Care Act also does not have pre-existing clauses. As a result of the legislation, it is no longer allowed.
Q. When does health insurance coverage under the Affordable Care Act start?
A. Coverage starts January 1, 2014.
Q. What is the open enrollment period?
A. October 1, 2013 through March 31, 2014.
Q. Where can students find additional information?
A. We have a number of resources. They can go to our Website, usc.edu.engemann, to get information on the USC Student Health Insurance Plan and compare rates and coverage, or they can send us an email at email@example.com, and we will help them. We are also holding information sessions on November 18 and December 2 from 5-7 p.m. in the Engemann Student Health Center. Please respond to firstname.lastname@example.org as space is limited. Refreshments will be served.