Out-of-State Students Encouraged to Enroll in Michigan Medicaid Ahead of Albion-Oaklawn Hospital Expansion

The Albion Health Care Alliance, located just behind the Bohm Theatre, can navigate students through federal healthcare options.

In late February 2019, Albion College will phase out  Student Health Services and phase in a partnership with Oaklawn Hospital. The future facility on the ground floor of Munger Apartments will have longer hours and more services than Student Health Services.

The switch comes at a cost. Students will pay out-of-pocket for Oaklawn’s services.

If students don’t have insurance, the cost of visiting Oaklawn will be high, said Cheryl Krause, director of Student Health Services.

Out-of-state students with Medicaid will need to switch to Michigan’s Medicaid program to have coverage at college.

Other out-of-state students who did not qualify for Medicaid in their home state may be able to qualify in Michigan.

To apply for Michigan Medicaid, students can meet with Vicki Easterwood, navigation specialist at Albion Health Care Alliance.

Easterwood said the reason behind a diversity in Medicaid coverage is due to state funding.

Although Medicaid is a federal program, it is partially funded and wholly administered by states. If a student is out-of-state at college, that student’s home state will not pay for out-of-state healthcare costs, Easterwood said. So, out-of-state students need to apply for Michigan Medicaid to receive coverage in-state.

Some states — like Florida, Georgia, Missouri and Texas — opt-out of expanded Medicaid coverage while others, like Michigan, opt-in. This means that Georgian students, for example, may not qualify for Medicaid in their home state but they may at Albion.

Expanded Medicaid covers any individual at or below 135 percent of the federal poverty rate, or about $16,250.

So long as students are at least 18 and make less than $16,250, students can qualify regardless of their family’s income so long as they file as an independent, said Easterwood. Anyone under 26 can also stay on their family’s health plan, as set by the Affordable Care Act.

The application process takes about a half-hour. It usually takes a week for a student to be approved, said Easterwood.

Easterwood will be at Student Health Services on the afternoon of Thursday, Oct. 4 to help students apply. Otherwise, she accepts walk-ins Monday through Wednesday from 8:30 a.m. to noon and 1:00 to 5:00 p.m. at her office at the Alliance.

The Alliance’s is located at 115 Market Place. It is the building adjacent to the Bohm Theatre parking lot.

Switching to Michigan Medicaid from another state’s Medicaid program means that students will have to reapply for their home state’s Medicaid if they want to receive healthcare in that state, she said.

Easterwood recommends that students who want to apply for Michigan Medicaid see her as soon as possible. The Oaklawn transition will happen right at the height of flu season, she said, and she does not want students to have to wait to be approved when they are already sick.

“People don’t think about their health until their sick,” she said. “Then, it’s a demand.”

Once a student is accepted, Medicaid will cover any qualifying healthcare visits from three months prior.

Undocumented students or low-income students who do not or cannot apply for Medicaid can talk to Krause, who will serve as Albion’s health liaison after the Oaklawn transition. She can connect students to the Fountain Clinic in Marshall. The charitable healthcare provider offers free physician appointments and some low-cost prescriptions.

Many colleges in the United States offer free health services to students for basic visits or provide health insurance plans that students can enroll in.

About Beau Brockett Jr. 76 Articles
Beau Brockett Jr. served on Pleiad staff from Sept. 2015 to May 2019, serving as editor-in-chief his senior year. As of 2019, Beau is continuing his journalism career as the lead reporter for Niles, Michigan, for Leader Publications.

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