University implements new insurance policy, potential new fees for students
Published: Sunday, September 1, 2013
Updated: Sunday, September 1, 2013 14:09
Students are required to either waive or enroll in the new university health insurance policy by Sept. 10 due to the university’s attempts to ensure all students have a health care plan.
The policy, which is a university initiative to promote improved standards of student wellness, also allows the university to meet the requirement of the Affordable Care Act that mandates nationwide universal health insurance coverage by January 2014.
The policy requires students who are not covered by an outside insurance provider to pay a premium in order to be covered by the university plan. Students who may be covered by an outside provider but do not sign a waiver form will be automatically charged the premium through their student account and covered by the university plan. All students who are charged the premium will become enrolled in the university health insurance plan.
Jessica Chason, assistant risk manager of the Office of Risk Management, said the premium for the new university health insurance plan costs $1,473 annually and ensures coverage for one year.
“The university, overall, believes that student wellness is essential to student academic progress,” Chason said. “Health insurance is extremely important. Serious health issues could force students to temporarily or permanently relieve their studies.”
Chason said another factor that encouraged the university to adopt the policy was the American College Health Association’s recommendation that “all universities require proof of adequate health insurance as a condition of enrollment.”
While the university has always sponsored a health insurance policy, the 2013-2014 academic year is the first year for which the policy is mandatory if not substituted by a given student’s outside insurance plan, Chason said.
“The program is for the benefit of students,” Gary Stokes, director of the Office of Risk Management, said. “We want to make sure students have the funds necessary to recover from either sickness or injury and resume their academic career.”
Stokes said the student health fee ensures students can be treated at the Student Health Center on campus, while the mandatory health insurance premium provides coverage for further medical treatment.
“The insurance works in conjunction [with the student health fee] for services that the student either chooses not to go to Student Health Services to receive or for services that Student Health Services is incapable of providing,” he said.
Timothy Dowling, physician and director of Student Health Services, said the new insurance policy will not lead to any changes at the Student Health Center.
“Our mission stays the same,” Dowling said. “That is to provide quality primary care and education about healthy lifestyles to students.”
Dowling said a student’s insurance policy is irrelevant if he or she has paid the student health fee and is seeking care Student Health can provide.
He said, however, x-rays and laboratory work that need to be “sent out” get billed through insurance.
“Having insurance does help reduce any out-of-pocket costs students may have incurred here that their student health fee would not cover,” Dowling said.
Dowling said students usually incur out-of-pocket expenses in specific and rare circumstances such as visits to a specialist or the emergency room.
“Now that it’s mandatory for students to have insurance that barrier is hopefully removed,” Dowling said.