Possible Insure Oklahoma Expansion For Students

Saturday, January 10th 2009, 6:32 pm
By: News On 6

By Jeffrey Smith, News On 6

UNDATED -- The Oklahoma Health Care Authority wants to expand the Insure Oklahoma program.

For the last four years, Insure Oklahoma has been the state's employer-employee insurance partnership.

It's been helping small business owners provide health insurance to workers by covering the majority of the cost. Now the health board wants to expand the program to incorporate college students in need.

For the first time since having a child three years ago, Rachel Rubin is going back to school to become a special education teacher.

"I'm a little scared. I'm a little scared, but I'll be alright. I'm meant to do this. I'm meant to be here," said Rachel Rubin, Tulsa Community College student.

Rubin's son Jonah is autistic. She struggles to balance raising a family while working part-time as a carhop at Sonic. She says she can't afford her own health insurance.

"It is something I worry about, actually, because I get sick a lot. And I'm needing to go the doctor, but I can't afford it. So I have to go to the emergency room instead because I can't afford a doctor visit. And then you get a big fat emergency bill, but you can never pay it off," said Rubin.

Insure Oklahoma is a state subsidy that helps small businesses get insurance for their workers. The state's health board advised expanding the program to full-time college students.

The state will pick up 85% of the tab for insurance premiums. The student still pays just 15%.

A spokeswoman says students could pay less than $1.00 a day, depending on their income. Rubin says that would make a world of difference.

"I wouldn't be as sick all the time because when I am sick, I stay sick because I can't get the medical attention that I need," said Rubin. "I'd be healthier. I'd be stronger. I could stay in school for more days, you know, not miss any school days."

Rubin is focused on school and on achieving her dream.

The Insure Oklahoma expansion is pending a signature from Governor Henry.

Insure Oklahoma is in part sponsored by The News On 6's parent company, Griffin Communications, L-L-C and the Oklahoma Health Care Authority.