HIEP ramps up efforts before Covered California enrollment closes

The CSU Health Insurance Education Project team at San José State University is launching one last effort to enroll SJSU students, employees and their families in Covered California before the enrollment period for 2014 officially closes on March 31.

As part of the effort, the director of the CSU HIEP program and chair of the department of public health at CSU Los Angeles, visited SJSU to talk to a health policy course at SJSU on March 4. Dr. Walter Zelman has overseen the HIEP efforts statewide and has a long history with healthcare reform since he worked as an advisor during the Clinton administration.

According to the statewide project director, the teams’ efforts had more than 850,000 “outreach moments” and more than 20,000 educational efforts throughout the state since starting the project last fall on 15 CSU campuses.

“For the student body at San Jose State or any CSU, it’s hard to argue that there aren’t enormous benefits,” Zelman said, noting that one major change with healthcare reform is that people without children can now qualify for Medi-Cal.

Another benefit to students is that some who do not qualify for Medi-Cal due to the income level may receive financial assistance through the Covered California program and students can also stay on their parents’ insurance until age 26.

In the fall, Health Science Professor Anji Buckner and a team of MPH students from the Health Science and Recreation department in the College of Applied Sciences and Arts did a massive outreach on campus to increase awareness of healthcare reform as well as the options available through Covered California.

Now the efforts are turning to helping students and others on campus complete the enrollment process. At San José State University, enrollment assistance will be available on Tuesday afternoons, with potential for more counselors later in March.

“They have so much to benefit,” Zelman said. “They know they need insurance. They know they can get hurt or sick, but it was unaffordable.”

In a poll conducted of 800 students enrolled at SJSU, CSULA and CSU Fresno, only seven percent of students surveyed said they did not think they needed health insurance while only 2 percent said they didn’t want health insurance.

Of those surveyed, 80 percent reported that they did not have health insurance because they could not afford it. According to the report from CSU HIEP, it is estimated that 35-40 percent of CSU students and their families are now eligible for Medi-Cal, which is free to most who qualify for it. Another 30-40 percent are expected to be eligible for financial assistance to help cover the cost of a Covered California plan. On the Covered California health insurance exchange, California residents can select from a variety of insurance companies, depending on where they reside. There are different plan levels with varying degrees of coverage, though all meet the minimum requirements of what needs to be covered based on healthcare reform laws. The plans have different premiums, deductibles and copays so individuals can find a plan that is best for them.

Those interested in finding out more about plans through Covered California can use the shop and compare tool at www.CoveredCA.com to get an estimate of plan costs and options, including deductibles and monthly copays.

To watch a video and to view webinars, visit www.calstate.edu/coveredca.

San José State University students, employees and their family members can find out more about upcoming events and how to make an appointment with an enrollment counselor at: www.sjsu.edu/hiep