According to a recent Commonwealth Fund Task Force survey, young people ages 19 to 29 are twice as likely to be uninsured as children and older adults. In the past 10 years the number of uninsured young people has risen from 22 percent to 30 percent. There are currently 12 million uninsured 19 to 29 year olds. California community college students make up 380,000, in other words 31.7 percent. Many students are covered under their parent’s health plans. But for the unfortunate students that have to get their own, picking a good provider can be a daunting process. The Commonwealth Fund Task Force reports that three quarters of the 12 million without coverage have incomes 200 percent below the poverty level, which is about $17,000 for a single person. Half of the low income went without needed medical care because of the cost, and two thirds had problems paying medical bills. Three fourths of young uninsured workers have no option of job-based coverage either because the employer does not offer a health plan or they are ineligible to participate in the plan. A visit to the doctor for the uninsured student can be a costly trip. Some students pay as much as $65 to $80 for a doctor’s appointment, including x-rays and lab work. For a student that has to pay for classes, books, food and parking, that could be too high of a price. Given a choice, 10 percent of students would go without health insurance, according to the Commonwealth Fund Task Force survey. Yuba College students may find it even harder to get medical help on campus in the future. The college may be eliminating student health services altogether if faced with more budgetary restraints. Yuba College nurse, Sara Harris, is retiring soon, and the district may consider replacing teaching faculty, such as a math instructor, instead of her position, especially in light of fiscal concerns that continue to haunt all community colleges.
Yet Harris contends, “Students need more opportunities for health services.” The Yuba College Health Center, located in room 122, next to registration, offers many free services to staff and students. Free services include treatment for minor injuries and illnesses, pregnancy tests, TB testing, physicals, visual and hearing screening, blood pressure monitoring and health counseling referrals to other agencies. “We try not to duplicate services,” said Harris, who mentioned that HIV testing is provided by Yuba County staff that try to visit the campus occasionally. Harris said that if the Health Center cannot provide the service to a student, she refers students to free or low cost services in the county. However, Harris remarked, “Our county has limited resources.” Some affordable health plans are available to students. A search of the Internet reveals many helpful sources, such as www.student-resources.net and the American College Student Association website, www.acsa.com.