Some Long Beach State students could be at risk of being refused medical attention due to California’s new health care mandate that will take effect in Jan. 2020.
The goal of the mandate is to reduce the number of uninsured families in the state. Students can be fined $695 if they don’t have health insurance.
Students who are under their parents’ health insurance policy can remain covered until they turn 26.
“I have health insurance because my family pays for it,” said Jamie Conlon, a criminal justice major at CSULB. “I’ve always had Kaiser Permanente.”
Students like Marlena Lausch, a psychology major, have Medi-Cal and may experience some healthcare centers denying treatment or possibly charging extra fees for treatment.
Lausch said she last went for a doctors’ visit in the summer and was refused to be seen at multiple medical clinics.
Bilal Siraj, a health care administration major, said he has been aware of the mandatory health insurance coverage coming up next year.
“The last time I saw a doctor was a year ago,” Siraj said. “I was refused treatment once because my insurance didn’t cover the fees and I had to pay out of my own pocket.”
According to Covered California, health insurance coverage is based on an individual’s or family’s income to determine their eligibility. If an individual makes less than $48,000 per year or if a family of four earns wages less than $98,000 per year, they may qualify for health insurance coverage.
When a student loses coverage on their 26th birthday, they may qualify for a special enrollment period. This will help students enroll in a health plan outside open enrollment.
According to the State of California Franchise Tax Board, in January 2020, families will be required to sign up for health insurance or face a fine of over $300 per child or 2.5% of their annual income as a tax penalty under the new state mandate.
“So people who can’t afford it, they’re making them pay extra for it,” Conlon said.
International students may face a fine for a lack of valid health insurance in America.
“I have to pay $1,100 a year for health insurance,” said Hamza Mekouar, an international student from Morocco.
Mekouar said he plans on staying in the U.S. after college. The state offers insurance to all residents regardless of their immigration status along with Medicaid covering adults.
According to the 2017 U.S. Census, there were 2.7 million Californians without health coverage. Next year, the state will release a subsidy program that will help lower the cost of healthcare for low and middle-income Californians.
Students who do not have health insurance coverage need to provide documented proof such as pay stubs, bank statements, and/or more to verify their household income.
The Long Beach Department of Health and Human Services offers enrollment support with multiple health insurance programs such as Medi-Cal and Covered California. The state will help bring financial assistance to qualifying individuals and families, which will be determined by their household size and income — all through Covered California.
To avoid the fine, the deadline to sign up for insurance coverage with Covered California is Jan. 15, 2020.