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Content Any Way U Want It!

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University explains Affordable Care Act

Students experiencing headaches from trying to understand the Affordable Care Act might be able to pay for a doctor’s visit with an insurance plan from the Act’s new Health Insurance Marketplace.

The ACA, better known as Obamacare, is one of the most significant changes to U.S. healthcare since the introduction of Medicare and Medicaid in the early 1960’s, said Richard Sipp, director of the Center for Student Health at the Nov. 22 Graduate Student Senate meeting.

Going into full effect Jan. 1, the new law creates a core set of benefits that all health insurance companies are required to provide, such as coverage for prescription drugs, hospitalization and pregnancy, said Tammy Ford, student insurance representative for the Student Insurance Office.

Under the law, people who can afford health insurance but do not have coverage in 2014 may have to pay a penalty in addition to the cost of all their health care, according to

The law also created the Health Insurance Marketplace on as a guide to help those undecided about their coverage choose and purchase a plan.

Ohio has four tiers of plans available on the marketplace: Catastrophic, Bronze, Silver and Gold, with premiums ranging from $200 to $450 a month, Ford said. An online application must be completed to get individual price estimates.

While some plans are cheaper than others, not every plan meets the minimum requirements set by the University, Ford said.

High deductible plans like the Catastrophic plan, which offers less than 60 percent expense coverage, and Bronze, which offers 60 percent, do not meet the requirements for the insurance waiver, she said.

The Silver plan offers 70 percent coverage and the Gold plan offers 80 percent but specific plans may or may not meet the University’s minimum requirements.

Marlene Reynolds, assistant director for Business and Information Systems, said students can go to to see their available plans and then contact the Student Insurance Office to ask about their options.

“You can bring that information in [to the Student Insurance Office] and we can let you know what plans would meet the requirements and which ones would not and that way you can decide whether you want to purchase a plan on the marketplace or purchase our plan,” she said.

The University’s student health insurance plan offered through UnitedHealthcare meets the ACA’s minimum requirements, so students will not have to pay a penalty, Ford said.

With that plan, students can choose to pay either annually or by semester. The total cost for coverage during the 2013-14 school year is $1,581 and the cost for this spring semester is $916, according to the University website.

Ford said the plan was designed in collaboration with six other Ohio universities in what is called the Inter-University Council.

“We all work together to come up with this plan designed for our students that not only has good benefits, but a fair price,” she said.

Students already enrolled in the University’s plan can waive for the spring semester but must do so before Dec. 23, the deadline to have coverage beginning Jan. 1.

If students choose to waive for the spring, there are some stipulations, Ford said.

“You can’t use the plan after Dec. 31,” she said. “The spring plan starts on Jan. 1 so if you use it, we can’t help you waive it.”

Ford said students considering different plans should view their options online and contact the Student Insurance Office at 419-372-7495 with any questions. A series of forums will be also be hosted in January for students to ask questions.

“If you’re interested in the marketplace, you’ll want to go to, start looking at the plans and figure out what is going to best suit you,” Ford said.

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