Parkland students, on the topic of health care

Peter Floess

Staff Writer

Do you have health insurance, and how much do know about your coverage? That was the question presented to 23 Parkland students during a survey conducted mid-March.

Out of those surveyed, five students were uninsured.

One of the uninsured students commented they wished Parkland was more helpful when it came to helping students find health insurance.

Of the uninsured students, two were international students. Currently the Affordable Care Act does not require international students to have insurance. One of these international students, who is from China, was surprised how expensive medical care is in the United States compared with China. According to Stanford Health Policy fellow Karen Eggleston, China has had nearly universal health care since 2012.

According to Antwanette Newton, an international student advisor with Parkland’s Counseling and Advising Center, Parkland “highly recommends” that international students have health insurance and provides information on how to obtain it.

“[International students] receive information from the International Admissions Office” on how to find health insurance, said Newton.

Out of the 18 respondents who had insurance, 10 got their health insurance through their parents. The portion of the Affordable Care Act that requires insurance plans to cover dependent children until the age of 26 was popular among respondents. One of the respondents enjoyed being on their parent’s health insurance because it made it possible for them to not worry about health insurance while in college.

One respondent, who is disabled, had mixed coverage with some of their costs being covered by their parents’ insurance and other costs being covered by Medicaid.

Another respondent said they were happy with their health insurance, but they did not reveal how their health insurance was provided.

The remaining six respondents all had some form of government-provided health insurance, whether through the Department of Defense’s TRICARE, the state of Illinois’ All Kids, Medicaid, or some other state program. One of these respondents is currently under a state program, but will switch to their spouse’s health care plan when they marry.

Out of 18 students with coverage, 13 were happy with their health insurance.

One respondent was pleased with the Health Alliance plan they were under through their parents. This person has had health problems their entire life, but because of their Health Alliance plan their parents have never struggled to pay their medical bills. This respondent gets routine MRI’s which they say would cost $90,000 per visit without insurance, but due to Health Alliance the family only spends $5,000 a year on medical costs, including medication and other hospital visits.

The most common complaints among respondents were that it is hard to find a good health care plan for an affordable price and that insurance companies have too limited of networks when it comes finding doctors or dentists. Dental health and dentistry were major concerns for respondents.

One respondent, who was happy with their father’s Blue Cross Blue Shield of Illinois insurance plan, was concerned about not being allow to stay on their parent’s plan to the age of 26 because they need a lot of dental work. Another respondent, who was unhappy with their mother’s Health Link insurance, said their dental insurance is “not working.”

For more information on getting health insurance as an international student, contact International Student Support at 217-351-2890 or visit their office in U223.