Some graduating seniors struggle with being uninsured

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Gina Banuelos, senior sociology major, suffers from bladder infection and does not have health insurance to help her relieve her ailments.

“I couldn’t afford it. (It) is too expensive,” Banuelos said. “I’m just waiting until I get a job.”

Banuelos, like thousands of CSUN graduates, will not only be leaving college life behind, but also the safety net of her parents’ health insurance. She expects to find a job with health plans and benefits.

Banuelos had health insurance for a long time. That was until she turned 23 in September 2005, and her health insurance expired. Now when she visits a doctor’s office, she pays a high visitation fee.

“I just paid $100 last month (for a doctor’s visit),” Banuelos said. She used to pay $12 for every doctor’s visit.

? said her health insurance was available through her mother’s work health plan. She used it several times due to her bladder infection.

Not having a health insurance, Banuelos said, is “scary because you get sick and you don’t go to the doctor.”

In the United States, 35 percent of people under the age of 26 were uninsured in 2004, according to Department of Health and Human Services report.

Louis Rubino, health and science professor at CSUN, said young people do not care much about having health insurance because the majority are healthy and rarely visit the doctor or need medical assistance.

“Most of the policies cover (until) the age of 22,” Rubino said.

Evan Oliver, senior liberal studies major at CSUN, said he has always been covered by his mother’s health insurance and never encountered problems with receiving coverage until he turned 25, when his health insurance expired.

He said he had the option to continue with the same health insurance company, but on a different plan.

“To me it wasn’t a big deal, I could’ve gone without health insurance,” Oliver said. “But my parents (wanted) to continue with a health insurance, because it had always come in handy.”

Having health insurance has been a priority to his parents, Oliver said.

“My sister and I were on (my mother’s) plan, but she added me to her plan for an additional amount. Everything is (in) my name,” Oliver said.

“I think if I get sick, then I have the option to go to the doctor without paying too high fees,” Oliver said. “It just happens to be beneficial when I need to go to the doctor.”

Oliver said having health insurance is helpful, however, does not fully cover him for prescriptions, which he pays for with additional fees.

“I think it is more of a safety net, if something happens,” Oliver said.

Michelle Garcia, electronic media management major, will graduate this semester. She said she is realistic that the first jobs she will have may not give her health insurance.

“The majority (of) jobs in the field (of) entertainment don’t necessarily provide health benefits,” Garcia said. “If a small company (hires me), I run the risk of not getting a health plan.”

“I’ have been looking online for jobs, (they) don’t provide health plans,” she said.

Garcia’s health plan is available through her mother’s work. She said her health coverage will continue until 2007 when she turns 24.

Even though her insurance will expire next year, she is already considering possible health plans, she said.

“I think (health insurance) is important because if you are sick, you go to the doctor, and you don’t have to pay,” Garcia said. “I really don’t pay anything.”

She visits a doctor’s office twice a year for medical care and two to three times a year for dental care.

“I think it is good to have regular check-ups,” Garcia said.

Usually the ages of students using their parents health insurance is determined by their parents’ employers and ranges between the ages of 19 to 24, said Brad Kieffer Health Net spokesperson.

“Most of the students end up getting out of the policy because they are older,” Rubino said. “They really depend on their parents insurance. It’s an unaffordable issue.”