INTERNATIONAL STUDENTS AND THE HEALTH CARE BILL
April 1, 2010 Mount Holyoke News
International Will the reform affect
students left out your medical career?
of health care bill International students planning careers in health care weigh
the future of their pursuits as the politicians on Capitol Hill
BY LAURA TURYATEMBA ’11 debate over the health care reform bill that was passed on
STAFF WRITER March 21. Abena Kwaa ’12 and Asinath Rusibamayila ’10 shed
After much of what looked like haggling over
some light on how this bill could affect their future career
the lives and health of Americans, and even paths.
more nuanced amendments to appease a bipar-
tisan voting pool, Congress passed a universal ABENA KWAA ’12
health care bill that received mixed reviews. “A BIOLOGY MAJOR AND A PRE-MED STUDENT
universal health care? What universal health
care?” is the reaction one might expect from inter- Q: What do you know about the health care reform?
national students studying in the U.S. A: The idea I get from it is that it would be reducing health care
Perhaps the greatest number of skeptics, after Re- costs for Americans.
publicans and illegal immigrants, are those studying
abroad in the States. Under the previous health care sys- Q: What was your reaction to the reform?
tem, schools provided many international students with A: I feel indifferent about this bill because I am not Amer-
medical insurance that covered aspects such as “men- ican and did not have a say in the reforms that were
tal health” and “sports benefits.” Yet foreign stu- proposed. Nonetheless, I feel this bill is an im-
dents remained uninsured in terms of other portant step towards reforming the Ameri-
more prevalent health problems, includ- can health care system.
ing eye care, dental care and emergency
problems. Will the brand new universal Q: As a pre-med student, have you
health care bill promise a better treat- thought about the ways this bill
ment of international students? could influence your career
So far, the coverage cost for an in- path?
ternational student's eye care, den- A: My ideology is that
tal care and urgent problems can healthcare should be ac-
quickly reach hundreds, even cessible and affordable
thousands, of dollars. “I had to for all. Whether this bill
take out a loan to cover my had passed or not, I
dental care bills,” said Hope would still want to offer
Mbabazi ’11, originally from medical services at a
Zimbabwe. “A loan for my subsidized cost. If it has
teeth. It’s kind of ridiculous,” not passed by the time I
she added. Several others ad- am a medical doctor, an
mitted having attempted to alternative would be es-
privately deal with health is- tablishing a private
sues rather than face the ex- practice that can afford
pensive medical attention to treat patients at re-
provided by professionals. ally reduced rates. Since
Because health insurance the central focus of this
in college is mandatory, stu- bill is to help Americans
dents have to rely on the cov- reduce the costs of
erage provided by the school, or healthcare, I am in sup-
get a waiver, with amounts to port of this because it
$50,000 per injury and/or preg- aligns with my personal
nancy. International students view that everyone de-
are also not allowed to accept serves affordable health-
public benefits such as Medi- care. Even if Democrats
caid. Host families, friends should have strings attached by pass-
and resident relatives can- ing this bill, it’s still for the satisfaction of
not transfer emergency the greater population.
Medicaid funds to meet the
student’s medical costs. ASINATH RUSIBAMAYILA ’10
Students who run afoul of
these laws may even
SPECIAL MAJOR IN GLOBAL HEALTH AND
have their F-1 visas re- STATISTICS
voked or experience
trouble with visa re- Q: What do you know about the new health
newals. care bill?
So what bene- A: Personally, I do not know a lot about it but I
fits can international have read many comments online that speak out against this bill.
students expect from the
much trumpeted universal health care bill? Not many, apparently. On the Q: Based on what you know, what are your opinions about the content of this bill?
question of non-citizens, President Obama appealed to the discretion and A: My focus on this bill has been sex education. I am concerned that abstinence-until-
humaneness of medical teams and staff in hospitals or emergency rooms to marriage programs still got $250 million on a five-year course in funding while comprehensive
attend to patients. After all, he cajoled, they do get out there and interact sex education programs, inclusive of contraception education, got only $75 million.
with Americans—not much incentive for medics transfixed on their capital-
ist economy and the market driven, profit maximizing business that health Q: Could you elaborate on this, please?
care has become. A: During the Bush administration, a lot of funding went towards these nationwide absti-
It is easy to see how a revised health care system could improve the lives nence—only programs in schools. Statistics have revealed that these programs did not work
of Americans in the future, but without clauses directly addressing the sit- and contribute to the rise in teen pregnancies in America. During the debate of Obama’s pro-
uation of legal aliens, such as international students, this group can’t expect posed healthcare bill, there were attempts to remove funding from these programs and sup-
to benefit from an official passage of a universal health care bill. port more effective and comprehensive sex education programs.
President Obama’s proposed health care bill was passed just last week
in Congress, and is now well on its way to being made law in the United Q: How would this bill affect your career path in international health?
States. Yet with much of the restrictive legislation still in place, international A: This healthcare bill is supposed to be a major source of funding for different healthcare ini-
students cannot expect to enjoy much respite from the relentless sponge that tiatives. If I were to pursue a public health career in America, I would want to work with a pro-
medical care costs have become. gram that advocates for the use of contraceptive methods. If these programs were better
funded in the bill, it would be more in line with my support for a better youth sex education pro-
gram. I am confident about the effectiveness of these comprehensive programs and would sug-
gest they should be age appropriate for students. The people who teach these programs should
also be well trained. Therefore, funding should go specifically towards that training.
PREPARED BY TEMITOPE OJO ’10 & EMILY CHOW ’12