2014 ACA enrollment to rise with increase seen from college students

Jose Soto, Staff Reporter

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Starting Nov. 15, people can begin signing up for an affordable healthcare plan as enrollment for the second year of the Affordable Care Act opens.  Under the ACA, consumers may now enroll and purchase a plan that best suits their health needs.

In 2013, the act expanded the number of Americans with health insurance by 10 million. Although it had a rocky start—mainly due to glitches on the official website—the ACA has allowed for access to health coverage for many people.  It is expected that the number of enrolled Americans will continue to increase this second time around.

Enroll America is a non-profit, non-partisan organization whose mission is to maximize the number of American’s enrolled and help them receive health coverage. They also try to help consumers be knowledgeable about the facts and
options of enrollment.

Jose Medrano, the Texas border region leader with Enroll America, recently spent five days in El Paso helping increase awareness of the act and enrollment in the borderland.

“Like Brownsville, El Paso is a border city,” Medrano said. “This demographic is crucial to the expansion of enrollment because there are many individuals who perhaps do not understand the concept and function of the act. That is what we are trying to establish here, a general understanding.”

Medrano also said that certain factors such as language barriers and low income within a community are integral for the organization to address in order to provide them with the adequate information.

“Certain circumstances allow people to be eligible for certain plans, marketplaces, etc.,” Medrano said.  “This is why we try and host as many events in order to provide this information for the community.”

Although enrollment for 2013 ended in March of last year and this year’s enrollment commences on Nov. 15, Medrano said that certain predicaments could allow for someone to qualify for what is known as special enrollment.  This can include a termination from a job, bearing a child and death of a spouse.

Monica Gaytan, Texas community lead organizer for Enroll America, said that the organization has been conducting community outreach by tabling at events and recruiting volunteers. Gaytan said that they have also been collaborating with partners, Enroll El Paso Coalition, to ensure an easy and accessible enrollment process.

“Some important factors that people should know are the documents they need to have and bring when enrolling. This includes their passport, social security, income tax, pay stubs, etc.,” Gaytan said. “We encourage the community to get informed and ask questions by attending informational events on the Affordable Care Act to know and understand what the Health Marketplace Insurance is, as well as to visit enrollment sites and the website.”

Jeorgina Balderrama, senior nursing major, is enthusiastic about health care reform.  She said that this act will change the way the entire health system works, from the governmentally run health care agencies to the doctor’s office.

“This act is something that is going to affect the entire health care system and all of its users,” Balderrama said. “I truly believe that everyone should have the opportunity for health care and should know of the opportunities to receive it.”

Balderrama also said that as a nursing student, she believes that health promotion and prevention is the only way to optimal health. With more people being able to afford health care, Balderrama said that the public’s general health will improve, since people can afford procedures such as yearly check-ups and immunizations.

“Any means that creates an easier route for people to have these opportunities should be considered and promoted to the community,” Balderrama said. “Being knowledgeable about the ACA, as controversial as it may seem, can help people determine the best way to receive health care.”

Medrano said that it is important for college students such as the ones at UTEP to understand and comprehend the process of enrollment in order to assist other people, especially family members.

“The student body, like the one at UTEP, is integral to us because they are extremely helpful at relaying the information to older family members, who perhaps do not speak English or do not understand the process,” Medrano said.  “Also, this demographic is susceptible to circumstances that might entail them to enroll for health care under ACA.  College students are a group expected to be one of the highest enrolling class this time around.”

For more information about Enroll America, visit enrollamerica.org.  For more information on the Affordable Care Act and to enroll, visit healthcare.gov.  Medrano and Gaytan encouraged students to visit the Student Health Center, located at the Union East Building, room 100,
for more information.

Jose Soto may be reached at [email protected]