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Jun 13, 2014 05:27 PM EDT

Obamacare: CSU Campaign Sees Gains In Students With Health Insurance


California State University System's campaign to encourage students to get health insurance has made significant gains, the Los Angeles Times reported.

According to a recent poll, the number of students without health insurance enrolled in the California State University system dropped by 60 percent after Obamacare enrollment.

During the enrollment period, federal officials were worried that "if not enough young, healthy people signed up for coverage, insurance companies would be left with too many sick and expensive customers, which would eventually cause carriers to raise premiums," the Los Angeles Times reported.

The national health law requires that nearly everyone has insurance by 2014.

"These students proved that the folks we're calling 'young invincibles' do want health insurance," William Covino, president of California State Los Angeles, told the Los Angeles Times.

The university system launched the CSU Health Insurance Education Project, which started Obamacare outreach and enrollment assistance last August. The campaign was funded by a grant from Covered California, the state's health insurance exchange.

Thirty percent of students were uninsured before enrollment began, and 10 percent were uninsured after.

Walter Zelman, chairman of the Cal State L.A. Public Health Department and director of the project, told the Los Angeles Times that the 10 percent uninsured rate among the students is "virtually unheard of in California." That rate is usually higher.

Students may have been more inclined to sign up for health insurance than expected because many come from low-income backgrounds and therefore qualify for Medi-Cal, the state's free low-income health program that was expanded under Obamacare.

"The issue is not invincibility - it's affordability," Zelman said.

According to Inside Higher Ed, the gains are significant both for Cal State and the Obama administration's health care program.

The university system wants its students covered, and the Obama administration needs younger Americans, "who on average are healthier than older Americans, to sign up so that there is balance in the health costs of those with insurance."

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