Health insurance options

Liza Lundgren from the Cover Arizona coalition, left, talks with Allyson Remy, a GCC student, in the college cafeteria last month about her health care insurance options, while Jason Donofrio from the Arizona PIRG Education Fund, also seated, takes some notes.

Members of the Cover Arizona coalition were at Glendale Community College recently to educate students about their health care insurance rights and options and to enroll them in plans on the state’s health insurance marketplace, which reopened last month.

Representatives from the Arizona PIRG Education Fund and its allies met with GCC students Nov. 20, in their classes and cafeteria, to provide tips on what Arizonans need to know to receive new health insurance or renew their existing insurance.

Diane E. Brown, executive director for PIRG in Arizona, said her organization is one of 600 in the coalition.

Some organizations, such as her own, educate state residents, while others walk new enrollees through the online insurance exchange or the application forms for AHCCCS (Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System), which is the state’s version of Medicaid, Brown said.

Some students find it daunting to choose from the 100 plans on the exchange, as they look for the coverage that best fits their needs. She said the website contains a connector to help people with enrollment and a calculator to determine household costs.

Allyson Remy, a GCC student, said she recently moved to the state and is looking into whether AHCCCS can cover her epilepsy. Her uncle found it easy to get on AHCCCS, but she has heard it has lots of paperwork and the caseworkers are hard to reach.

Brandon Kleckner, another GCC student, said Jason Donofrio from PIRG got his attention when he stood in front of his class for a short presentation and said, “You guys can’t be denied health insurance.”

Kleckner said he planned to sign up for AHCCCS because it is based on income and he expects it to be free or low cost for him. He was already encouraging friends and family to join him.

Brown said the coalition did not have a goal of how many students it would try to enroll, but PIRG and its allies would try to talk with as many young adults as possible at GCC and other community colleges in the Valley.