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Fresno State was site of open enrollment

Tuesday, October 01, 2013

Tuesday marks an historic change in health care across the country. It's the first day of open enrollment for medical coverage under the Affordable Care Act.

Thousands of people across the Valley are expected to use the state-run exchange called Covered California to buy health insurance.

Fresno State Student Maximiliano Baynard is concerned about losing his current health coverage when he celebrates his birthday in a couple of months.

"When I turn 21 in December my medical is supposed to end and I'm diabetic so insurance is very important at the moment."

He spends between $800.00 and $1,000.00 a month on the medications he needs, and worries what will happen if he can't afford them on his own.

"So I really need insurance."

That's why he came to the free speech area on campus, to learn more about Covered California, the state's new marketplace for the Affordable Care Act.

Fresno State President Dr. Joseph Castro said, "This is a historic day in California and we are pleased our campus is the only university selected today as the site for the official announcement for the opening of Covered California."

Starting Tuesday, students who are under the age of 26 and aren't already covered under their parent's plans, can call or log online to determine whether they're eligible for new and expanded coverage, compare prices and enroll in insurance that takes effect on January first.

Graduate Student Yia Yang said, "So what brings you out to this event today? Just to see what I qualify for because I don't make that much money so I just want to see what's out there for me."

According to the university's data, about 70 percent of Fresno State students may be eligible for no or low-cost medical or government subsidies. And it's working to educate students about their options.

Department of Public Health Professor Vickie Krenz said, "Depending on their family income, how many people are in their household, that will be a big factor in what type of plan they'd qualify for."

For example, if you're single and make less than $15,000.00, you may be eligible for medical.

If you make between $15,000.00 and $45,000.00 a year, you may be eligible for financial help through Covered California.

Younger children may also be eligible under the new system as well, regardless of their age or pre-existing conditions. As long as they, not their parents were born in the United States.

Action News asked, "I've even been reading material on if one parent is documented and another is undocumented, the child can still get medical coverage."

"That's absolutely true," replied Kevin Hamilton. "That doesn't affect the status of the child. It's strictly determined by the child's status."

Chief program officer of Clinica Sierra Vista Kevin Hamilton says the new health insurance marketplaces, or exchanges, are also required to sell child-only policies for children up to age 21. A change that could open up the door to coverage for parents as well.

"With the healthy families program only the kids could be covered," said Hamilton. "With this new world the kids are probably eligible to be covered under medical and the parents will be eligible to pay a premium under Covered California to get them covered. So suddenly the whole family has health insurance."

(Copyright ©2014 KFSN-TV/DT. All Rights Reserved.)

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health_care_reform, linda mumma
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