Students must explore health care options

by Tomas Nieto

MCT Campus

The weather is getting colder, students are starting to wear sweatshirts and Starbucks is selling its holiday specialty drinks. However, cold weather does have its downsides. One of the most notorious is the dreaded sound of somebody coughing viciously while studying in San Diego State’s Love Library. Flu season is here and college students need to get their vaccinations. This addresses the underlying question of what health care plan is suitable for college students.

The main problem with all health care plans is cost. Premiums for young, healthy adults can be as low as $600 for indi- vidual insurance plans, but the co-payments can quickly add up for repeat visits. Colleges offer school-sponsored plans, but many of those only handle minor medical procedures, such as immunizations, and don’t cover major medical problems. SDSU’s Student Health Services focuses mainly on the spread of conta- gious diseases, such as the flu and meningitis. SHS outsources major health problems it cannot treat to local hospitals. This is problematic because students may not be covered in case of an emergency at these hospitals.

According to USA Today, more than two-thirds of students nation-wide are covered by their parents’ employer-provided health care plans. This is a great option for students to get coverage. However, students who are not from Southern California might not be in their parents’ plan network. This could result in higher deductibles and co-insurances. All of these are good reasons to take a closer look at what is covered in a student’s health insurance.

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, is controversial. However, it does serve a vital purpose: To provide health care for everyone, including college students.

Obamacare has its problems.

Fox News reports Guilford College in Greensboro, N.C. raised its health insurance from $668 to more than $1,000. However, students are not forced to use school-sponsored health insurance, but can instead shop around for other, more cost-effective options better suited for their needs. Obamacare also requires insurers to extend the coverage to children in their parents’ health care plan until they are 26 years old.

This allows many students to have health insurance they are familiar with until they find work health care plans of their own. Disease and accidents aren’t the only health concern for college students. Many freshmen are con- cerned with the so-called “freshmen 15,” the rumored number of pounds students gain during their first year in college. The unex- pected weight gain can come from a new environment, stress and lack of nutritious meals. However, recent statistics show the trend of youth obesity in the U.S. is slowing. In 2006, 27.4 percent of students were considered obese and by last year, 29.2 percent of students were considered obese. This is only a small increase com- pared to the ones seen in previous years.

This shows the push for healthy behavior from public icons, such as Michelle Obama, are beginning to show results. If this trend continues, preexisting conditions of obesity and weight issues—which currently lead to higher insurance costs—could be reduced later in life. It is im- portant for students to exercise regularly and monitor their eating habits. This affects the overall well being of an individual and consequently the amount of medical attention and health care he or she needs.

College students should explore their health care options to find the plan suited to their needs.

It’s not always best to stay on a parent’s plan if it costs extra and doesn’t extend to San Diego. It’s also not ideal to be on a college’s health insurance plan if it doesn’t cater to a student’s individual medical needs. Students should be informed about their health insurance and be sure they will be covered in an emergency.

It’s equally important to live a healthy lifestyle so medical problems could be minimized now and later in life. It is impossible to predict the future, but having the right health care guarantees students are covered financially and medically.