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There are 45.8 million Americans without health care, according to Aetna. And not all of these people are middle-aged or retired.

In fact, 10 percent of this number consists of uninsured college students. Yet this is an issue that is rarely addressed; oftentimes, students are left in the dark.

Some college students are lucky enough to have health insurance as they are covered as dependents under their parents’ plans. But frequently, the Aetna Web site says, “employer-sponsored plans have age-based cut-offs for dependents at either age 19 or 23, leaving part-time and graduate students with fewer health-coverage choices.”

This does not leave many graduating college students in a good place. Once they do graduate, they will be responsible for their own health care. And as the economy gets worse, it’s only going to get harder. Not only does finding a job become a struggle, but also finding a job that provides sufficient benefits is even more difficult.

It is for this reason that November will decide how health care is shaped for the next few years. Whether we college students realize it or not, we will be affected.

That is why 100 student government leaders from across the nation have gathered in Nashville, Tenn., to voice their concern to the presidential candidates, who will debate Tuesday in the very same city. These student leaders represent more than one million students nationwide.

While this might be the direct representation number, they also indirectly represent the interests of you and me, as I am sure they have very similar stories.

They are all meeting in cooperation with SHOUT America, a nonprofit group whose purpose is to involve younger people in the movement for better health care.

The executive director of this organization, a young man himself, Landon Gibbs, 26, was quoted in an article on

“This year it will cost $2.4 trillion to fund our health care system,” he said. “It's the world's most expensive, but ranks 37th in terms of quality."

So let us examine each presidential candidate’s commitment to providing better health care.

Barack Obama’s Web site claims he will require all children to have health insurance and that all young adults can claim dependent status on their parent’s insurance plan up to the age of 25.

John McCain’s Web site, on the other hand, claims he will make family health care much more accessible by providing walk-in clinics and also allowing the purchase of health care across state lines.

Regardless of the election’s outcome, we still have at least four more months of a distorted health care system. What can we do in the meantime as we await improvements?

Campus Health Services does offer health insurance that, according to their Web site, will cost $870 for this spring semester. Health Services offers a variety of treatments on the Tempe campus from dermatology to allergy shots.

But since many college students often support themselves when they are out of the house, even the Campus Health Service costs may be a stretch.

The best plan, which I still have yet to hear either candidate address, was put forth by Aetna.

It consists of having an affordable health care plan put into the cost of attendance in college. This would allow scholarships and financial aid to help pay for health care.

Heading into the election, health care is one of the hot-button issues, but talk on how it relates to college students has been a quiet battle. There are a myriad of different solutions on the table, but all it seems Washington has done is talk.

I only hope that come November, whoever is elected will listen to those 100 student leaders. Not only for their sake, but also for college students across the country who are facing, or about to face, a health care crisis.

Andrew is busy concocting medicines of his own. Send him recipes and ideas for key ingredients at

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