Helping Students Navigate the New Health Insurance Landscape

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Laura Etherton

U.S.PIRG Education Fund Releases New Health Insurance 101 Guide

U.S. PIRG Education Fund

With the health insurance exchanges now open, U.S. PIRG Education Fund has launched an education campaign reaching out to students with facts about the changes, and tips to help them find the right coverage.

Emma Chupein is a student at the University of Illinois, and is helping run the outreach project at her Chicago campus as an intern with Illinois PIRG Education Fund. “Students have lots of questions about health insurance,” she explained. “We’re sharing these tips to help students find good insurance that won’t break the bank.”

At kickoff events at campuses across the country, PIRG staff and student volunteers released new state-specific Health Insurance 101 guides, with practical information about the ins and outs of the Affordable Care Act. U.S. PIRG Education Fund also released a national version of the guide, So, You Need Health Insurance. Now What?

Forest DeLozier is a University of Texas student who spent part of last year uninsured. “When I got sick, I had to miss work and class,” he said. “I just didn’t have the money to go to the doctor without insurance. DeLozier is now volunteering with TexPIRG Education Fund to help get the word out about the Health Insurance Marketplace on his college campus.

“Many college students are uninsured, and for many more losing coverage is just around the corner when they graduate or turn 26,” said Laura Etherton, U.S. PIRG health care policy analyst. “It’s critical for students and other young people to get the information they need to make smart decisions.”

Beginning January 1, 2014, most Americans will be required to have insurance coverage or pay a fee. By visiting, consumers looking for coverage can find out about the health insurance marketplace in their state.

Through the project, U.S. PIRG staff and volunteers are distributing information such as the new guide, doing presentations for campus groups, and partnering with faculty members and health centers to share practical information with students.

U.S. PIRG Education Fund’s Top Tips for Students:

1. Look into ongoing options such as staying on your parents’ plan until you turn 26, or enrolling in the student health plan.

2. Check out new options at the Health Insurance Marketplace online at Plans listed there cover preventive care, hospitalizations, office visits, prescriptions and more.

3. Find out about financial help that’s available when you apply through the marketplace.

4. Use the marketplace to compare plans side-by-side, in plain language.

5. Don’t let insurance companies turn you away if you have a pre-existing condition.

6. Get expert help comparing insurance plans and signing up online, by phone or in-person. Connect with specially trained people who can help you at

7. Find out more in the online Health Insurance 101 guide, So, You Need Health Insurance. Now What?

8. Get involved in the campaign as a volunteer or intern to help get the word out on campus. Find out more at

U.S. PIRG’s Health Insurance 101 project is funded in part through generous support from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.