NDSU Student Fighting for Medicaid Policy Changes

College can be a difficult transition period for many people. Most young adults go from living at home with adults taking care of the important things for them to suddenly having to do typical adult things themselves, like scheduling doctor appointments, filing taxes, and staying motivated and organized in work and school.

One thing that new adults don’t usually have to do is find health insurance for themselves. Since the Affordable Care Act was passed in 2010, adults can stay on their parents’ health insurance until they turn 26, so someone who doesn’t want to get their own plan doesn’t have to get one until they are out of college and are more financially secure.

An exception to this policy is Medicaid, which removes people from their parents’ insurance plans when they are 21. 21-year-olds then have to purchase their own health insurance or qualify for Medicaid themselves. This can be difficult if they are still being claimed as a dependent on their parents’ taxes because their household income is how their eligibility for Medicaid is calculated. Because of this, young adults will either have to file their own taxes or pay a rate based on their parents’ incomes, which may be impossible for them on a college student’s income.

NDSU student Kenzie Jacques is trying to change that policy. “I just turned 21 and got kicked off my mother’s Medicaid…I want to try to make it better for other people who are going through this,” she said. She has started a petition to change the age young adults are removed from their parents’ Medicaid plan from 21 to 26 on change.org and is hoping to get enough signatures to bring the issue to the federal government.

Jacques is trying to get the word out about how the current Medicaid policy creates difficulty for people who aren’t financially stable enough to pay for their own health insurance. Most college students are already paying for a lot of things with a very limited amount of money, and adding health insurance to the mix can be hard to afford. Additionally, it can be difficult to choose an insurance plan and avoid getting a bad deal for someone who doesn’t know a lot about how insurance works, which is true of a lot of college students.

Jacques’ petition started as a project for her public policy class, but now she hopes to make a difference and get the policy changed by the federal government. So far her petition has 350 signatures, but she is aiming for at least several thousand signatures to increase the reach of her message, and she intends to speak with a member of the local government soon to continue getting her petition higher in the government and having it be heard by more people. Her petition is at https://www.change.org/p/extend-medicaid-coverage-age-to-26-for-young-adults.

For any college students who are also struggling to find health insurance, there are several resources out there, like the North Dakota Navigators Program, a free insurance advice service for college students that can help them answer their insurance questions and apply for health insurance. The contact information for the program is linked on the NDSU Student Health Services page.

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