California State University

By Christopher Cadelago
ccadelago@sacbee.com
Published: Saturday, Oct. 19, 2013 – 12:00 am
Last Modified: Saturday, Oct. 19, 2013 – 8:18 am

Young, healthy people are the targets, crucial to the success of the nation’s new federal health care law. They rarely see a doctor and would pay premiums for years to come. Their money would help cover the care of older and sicker customers.

And one of the largest experiments to educate and ultimately enroll them is underway in California.

California State University, with more than 437,000 students across 23 campuses, is applying a $1.25 million federal grant to reach students, their families, part-time staff and even those who apply to universities but don’t enroll. Plying them with pizza and luring them with hip-hop, campus leaders and student ambassadors are dangling subsidies for signing up and warning that even a simple sports injury could spell financial ruin.

They are talking to people like Martina Rose Rocks, who was scurrying across campus on a recent afternoon when she came upon multicolored tents outfitted with flat-screen televisions. A DJ spun records, fitted in an oversized sweatshirt bearing a portrait of President Barack Obama.

Rocks, a full-time student at Chico State University, is without health coverage, so the pitch she would get from a volunteer with the state insurance marketplace caught her attention. Especially attractive was paying as little as $5 a month after receiving a federal subsidy based on her age, income and residence, she said.

Rocks, 32, said she plans to sign up for a plan after doing more research. She hopes to have coverage as soon as the first of the year.

“It’s really scary not to have health insurance,” she said.

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