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An overview of the ACA

By Jonathan Bulthuis
On October 10, 2013

Uninsured GSU students should be aware that health care is now available to them under the provisions of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA), passed into law by President Obama in 2010. Open enrollment for the new law began October 1.

Affecting many GSU students, staff, and faculty, the ACA revolutionizes health care in a number of fundamental ways.  A summary of information pertaining to theACA is available on the Department of Health and Human Services website, under the subheading "Key Features of the Affordable Care Act." The ACA extends the coverage of family plans for young adults up to the age of 26, lowers premiums for women and people with pre-existing conditions, provides free preventative immunizations and screenings, institutes tax credits for small businesses providing health coverage to their employees, extends coverage for seniors and minorities, and imposes government mandates on insurance companies to provide reasonable, comprehensive health care for everyone.

Health insurance plans under the ACA are made available to the American public at a range of prices through health insurance marketplace exchange websites, which launched at the start of open enrollment on October 1.  An introduction, explanation, and overview of the health insurance marketplaces are available on the White House's website, Included is a national map detailing state-by-state exchanges, premiums, and pricing information.

According to the White House State Premiums Map, in the State of Illinois, plan premiums for a 27 year old in can be as low as $90, and mid-range plan premiums for a family of 4 can average as low as $282 USD.  The website cites as many as 58 insurance plans available to Illinois residents, in gold, silver, bronze, and platinum designations, as well as low cost insurance plans for youth and young adults.

The Alliance for Health Reform website,, features a toolkit indicating that in addition to capping premium costs and extending the attainability of insurance plans, the ACA has provisioned funds to over a hundred public and private agencies nationwide to assist people in selecting and enrolling in a health insurance plan.  The toolkit, which contains state and locality specific information for Americans attempting to enroll in a health care plan, cites "$67 million in federal grants... to 105 community organizations to serve as "navigators" to help enroll consumers and small businesses."

Enrollment Assisters, in the form of Navigators and Connectors, Certified Application Counselors, and Insurance Brokers and Agents are qualified and available to help Americans apply for, select, and enroll in a health insurance plan.

Open enrollment in the national health care marketplace continues until March 31, 2014, and insurance coverage will begin on January first.  Individuals and families wishing to apply for insurance should do so through the National Health Care Site, Illinois residents can also apply via the state's website,

For more in-depth coverage of the Affordable Care Act, don't miss the next issue of the Phoenix, out on stands October 15!

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