Healthcare reform to impact students
Published: Wednesday, July 25, 2012
Updated: Friday, May 17, 2013 13:05
Christopher Marquez and Jennifer Urban-Flores are both UTEP Juniors and are also siblings. However, their health insurance situations are completely different. While Marquez, pre-science major, does not have health insurance and cannot be placed under either parent’s policy due to his age, Urban-Flores, history major, does have coverage under their parent’s policy.
Health insurance situations throughout UTEP students vary greatly based on factors such as age and other circumstances, but the vast majority of students do not have coverage. Earlier this month, utepnews.com reported that, according to the Student Health Center, an estimated 75 percent of UTEP students do not have health insurance.
In general, El Paso also sees high percentage of uninsured citiezens. According to the Texas Medical Association’s 2010 study, “The Uninsured in Texas,” El Paso ranks number 8 in Texas with 28 percent of its population being uninsured.
Now, in the wake of healthcare reform, many will have to deal with changes in their healthcare policies come 2014.
Under the new healthcare reform, students under the age of 26 might be eligible for coverage under a parent’s plan, but while this may be a good thing for some students, there are others whose policies may go up in price and yet others who will be forced by law to buy a brand new policy.
Senior criminal justice major Danae Hernandez-Ware’s current insurance family plan will sky-rocket from $234 per month to $600 once the Affordable Care Act takes effect.
“Because it is a TRICARE Prime [Military] plan there will be no changes, it’s just going to cost me.
more,” she said. “I work on and off but I get no insurance through my employer. I was on my parents insurance until I was 26 and now I’m stuck without it. I’m going to try to get it through Medicaid once the health care reform goes into effect.”
Although, the Student Health Center provides health care services, acute care, primary care and preventive services to all enrolled students at affordable prices, the Center staff still recommend for students to buy insurance coverage as they will eventually graduate and/or leave the University and will have to get insurance for themselves and their families.
The Student Health Center coverage is only for the students themselves and does not include their families.
Program offers affordable healthcare
Wellness El Paso is a new upcoming program designed to provide discounted family healthcare services to the El Paso and Juárez community. More specifically, Wellness El Paso is targeted for those who are uninsured either because they cannot afford it and/or don’t qualify for Medicaid or Medicare.
“Wellness El Paso is a discount program that affords discounts on medical, dental, vision, chiropractic care, pharmacy, dining, cosmetic and fitness,” said TEB President and Wellness El Paso Marketing Director Marc Hernandez.
The program, which has been a work in progress for about a year and a half now, currently has 200 plus healthcare providers in El Paso and Juárez and seeks to build up on that number.
“Because of our Hispanic culture a lot of times we don’t go to the doctor unless we’re very sick and once that happens, we do have to spend a lot of money so it actually bills up very fast,” said Program Director and senior double major in accounting and finance, Gib Peña. “We want to have people know that there is an alternative for regular check-ups and all that preventive work that will keep you from going to the hospital or from getting very sick and that way you’re well and ensure your own well-being without having to wait until last minute.”
Wellness El Paso is currently looking into discounting the membership for UTEP students. They are also currently looking to work with the Student Health Center for services that are not offered on campus for uninsured students.
Grad student Ryan Otero, who is over 26 and uninsured himself sees the glass half full. He feels that the Affordable Care Act will have an overall positive effect on the city as a whole.
“It’ll alleviate some of the strain on some of the non-profit organizations such as La Fe Clinic, which relies on donations and grants,” he said. “Those who are able to get insurance will be able to get it at a lower rate, freeing up these clinics for those who cannot get insurance for other reasons such as immigration status.”
Jessica Alvarez may be reached at email@example.com.