Florida Atlantic University's first student-run news source.


Florida Atlantic University's first student-run news source.


Florida Atlantic University's first student-run news source.


A sign of real change


Political history met our high-speed society as supporters of President Barack Obama posted a victorious message on Twitter last month: “This is a major reform. This is what change looks like.”

They were referring to the health care reform bill that passed on March 22 after a year of controversy and delay. Days later, the president signed the bill into law. 

Typically, the bill is outlined to the public as a reform package that will expand health care coverage to an additional 32 million Americans, end abuses by health insurance companies and focus on preventive care. But the bill does have significant provisions relating to college students — and such benefits outweigh its cost.

Under the new law and starting in September, individuals can now remain insured under their parents’ health insurance plan until the age of 26.  Florida law has allowed for young people to keep such insurance until the age of 25, but several states would kick students off their parents’ insurance upon the age of 24 or graduation from college.

Students like freshman linguistics major Tathia Mompremier think this change gives young people more time to get insurance on their own.

“When you are 24, you are just coming out of college, and you find yourself without any health insurance,” she said.  “You have to worry about student loans, and you are just looking for a job.” 

Julie Sivigny, an academic program specialist with FAU’s College of Biomedical Science, agrees.

Sivigny did not have any health problems during the time she was a student without insurance, but she believes the change helps those who may encounter such issues.  “In those gap years, anything can happen,” she said.  “You’re relying on luck.”

While this is a positive for college students, it also applies to individuals not in college. 

Junior Eddie Shaffer, an FAU student who is the state vice-chair for the conservative organization Young Americans for Freedom, believes the change goes too far.

“It should be extended to college students only,” he said. “Extending it to everyone seems a bit unreasonable, and it’s a burden on the insurance companies.”

Another major point of contention in the new law is the health insurance mandate, which states that people must have insurance or else pay a fine. This takes effect in 2014. 

Much of the debate over the health care bill was over this provision, as republicans cried foul about the government wanting to force individuals to have insurance.

Tathia Mompremier sees the mandate as nothing new, reminding us that we are already required to get car insurance, while pointing out the mandate is in the best interest of everyone.

“As much as we think that we are invincible, cancer and diseases happen to all people regardless of age,” she said. “It is always good to have [health insurance].”
Shaffer opposes the mandate.

“Car insurance is not the same because driving a car is a privilege,” he said.

“Somebody shouldn’t be mandated to carry something that they don’t want to.”

Perhaps no concern is more pressing than the cost of health care reform, however. 
Conservative students like Shaffer worry about the bill’s effects on the country’s already sky-high deficit and what it means for our generation looking forward.

“We are going to have to shoulder this cost 15 to 20 years down the road,” he said.

“We’ll be one of the first generations to inherit the country in a worse shape.”

Julie Sivigny believes the cost of this reform is less than no reform at all. She pointed out that hospitals take care of sick individuals regardless of whether they are uninsured, and that cost trickles down to taxpayers.

“We’re already paying,” she said. “People who are uninsured go to the doctor when they’re already sick, and that [expense] passes on to all of us when [the health problem] could have been prevented with prior preventive care.”  

In the end, this kind of reform has been needed for years.

While students may face issues once they pass the age of 26 — especially once the insurance mandate is in place — the extension to that age allows time for students who are just getting out of college to better transition into life after college. 

Unfortunately, any kind of reform does often require sacrifice.

While it may be called socialism by some critics, we already have that concept in public education: We are all mandated to go to school, and everyone is required to pay for it even if they don’t go to a public school.

This bill does not signal a government takeover, though.

While the government may be spending more and the cost may cause issues in the future, it’s being spent on all the American people with and without insurance, not on some foreign war that should have never happened or on tax cuts for people who don’t need them.

This is only the first step in reforming our health care system, but as Barack Obama’s supporters said, it’s a major reform and a sign of real change. 

[Boris Bastidas is the president of FAU College Democrats.]


Tune in

Boris Bastidas represents the democratic viewpoint on Owls with Issues. This weekly talk show on Owl Radio features three student panelists’ perspectives — democratic, republican and independent — on politics and current events. To hear more debate on hot topics like health care, tune in.

When: Listen live on Fridays from 10 to 11 a.m., or catch archived shows online 24/7.

Where: Listen to Owl Radio in the Breezeway or at owlradio.fau.edu.

For more info: www.owlswithissues.com

[Source: Alan Pollock, Owls with Issues creator and host]

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