Helping students achieve their academic goals is, of course, a priority for Pima Community College. But we also are committed to a holistic approach that addresses students’ needs outside the classroom. Access to quality healthcare is an ongoing concern for many of our students.
CC student Rahsheen Taborn (at far right in photo), a U.S. Army veteran who served in Iraq and Afghanistan, is grateful for the help PCC advisors and her fellow student-veterans provided as she searched for health insurance. But she knows that not everyone has that type of peer support. The reality is young adults have low health insurance literacy rates and are unfamiliar with basic terminology like co-pay and deductible. [Rahsheen, Downtown Campus’ student body president, is paying it forward by helping organize a healthcare information fair at Downtown in early 2015.]
Ensuring that all PCC students get a more complete understanding of the Affordable Care Act was one of the goals of a gathering Tuesday at Downtown Campus. The College was proud to host the information-sharing session, which was especially timely as the open enrollment period for health insurance began Nov. 15, and runs through Feb. 15, 2015.
The session featured talks by Rahsheen; Diane E. Brown, Executive Director of the Arizona PIRG Education Fund; Cynthia Estrada, outreach supervisor for Pima Community Access Program, which helps walk individuals through the health insurance enrollment process; and Kenneth Shapiro, Interim Regional Director for Department of Health and Human Services. A common emphasis was on getting out the facts, such as the reality that more than 120,000 Arizonans enrolled in health insurance last year, and that 25 percent of those people were ages 18-34 and 24 percent were Latino. PCC’s student demographics align with these statistics, making the College a natural location for disseminating information.
Young people often think of themselves as invincible, but the reality is they need health care coverage because it is essential to their economic security. If a person gets sick or is injured in an accident and doesn’t have health insurance, hospital and doctor bills can quickly exceed that person’s ability to pay. A single visit to the emergency room for an unexpected health situation can run into the thousands or tens of thousands of dollars. Coupled with college loans, living and other expenses, having no coverage can put a young person further into debt.
Contact information regarding the Affordable Care Act can be found on the College’s Health, Wellness and Safety webpage. Everyone knows someone whose life would be changed by affordable, quality health insurance. It is important that PCC, as an institution of higher learning, lets our students, faculty, staff and community know about their legal rights and options regarding healthcare, so that they can make informed decisions.