The Affordable Care Act's future impact on LMU students

With spring 2021 fast approaching, the Supreme Court’s ruling on the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is on the horizon. Enacted in 2010, the ACA is a federal healthcare reform law that makes affordable health insurance accessible to more Americans by expanding the Medicaid program and providing premium tax credits to those that fall below the federal poverty level. The decision to maintain or overturn this federal law remains uncertain and leaves many Americans unsure of their future access to health care.

College students make up a population in the United States that is vulnerable to these possible changes. According to national survey data collected by The Century Foundation, “health insurance coverage amongst students increased by ten percentage points from 2010 to 2018, cutting the national uninsurance rate for students in half.” This data shows that the implementation of the Affordable Care Act in 2010 has provided easier health care access to many college students within the past decade.

Among LMU students, the Supreme Court’s upcoming decision is a frequently discussed topic, as some see flaws within its guidelines while others believe that it should not be changed. Giovanni Gonzalez, an undeclared freshman in the Bellarmine College of Liberal Arts, said, “I feel like it should be reformed, not repealed. It’s definitely not perfect but it could be made better, not completely repealed.”

Dan Hyslop, a physician and medical director at LMU Student Health Services, explained his perspective on the possible decision to overturn the ACA: “It's recklessly irresponsible. It would throw 20 million Americans off of healthcare coverage in the middle of a pandemic ... It would be a disaster."

As explained by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, insurers would be able to control eligibility and deny applicants coverage based on preexisting health conditions if the ACA were repealed. With over 10 million Americans having been infected with COVID-19, this repeal would make it much more difficult for those who were infected to access the coverage they need.

Not only would those who currently utilize the ACA to receive health care be affected, but Hyslop added that “the longer the pandemic goes, its negative impact on the economy could certainly affect people who currently have private health insurance, because of the loss of a job or a business bankruptcy they could lose their health insurance that way.”

With the future uncertain, some students may feel anxious. However, LMU provides many outlets and resources for students in the event that they do get sick, such as Student Health Services (SHS).

Katie Arce, the director of SHS, explained how the University can help students with medical services when they are on campus again, regardless of their health care coverage. Arce said: “Please know that students do not need to have the Aetna student health insurance plan or any insurance plan to visit SHS. We do not bill insurance plans and we do not charge for a health provider's visit. We do bill for medicines, lab tests and some supplies. These costs are nominal, most less than $50.”

Overall, it is a positive reminder that LMU has resources for students to figure out their health care coverage and services. However, LMU cannot control the ACA outcome either way. So, for these next few months of waiting, it is essential to inform others about the importance of the ACA. The repeal of the ACA could have a detrimental impact on the people we hold closest in our lives. We must continue to fight for loved one's healthcare. As Arce expressed, “healthcare is a right, not a privilege."

This is the opinion of Emilia Cordova, a freshman journalism major from Hawthorne, California. Email comments to astory@theloyolan.com. Follow and tweet comments to @LALoyolan on Twitter, and like the Loyolan on Facebook.

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