New student health care plan approved, promises more options

Anne Preller

This fall University students will have a new and more expensive health care plan option.

Last Thursday the Board of Regents approved the Student Health Benefits Plan, a plan Dave Golden, a community program specialist for Boynton Health Service, called the best student health care plan in the nation.

Though the new plan provides more thorough coverage, it comes at a increased cost to students.

“The cost for the new student health care has risen about 8.7 percent,” said Sue Jackson, manager of patient accounting and the student insurance program at Boynton.

Last semester the student health care option cost students $458 a semester. Now one semester of insurance will cost $498.

“We were looking for a good price. Our tuition is going to go up like crazy, and I think we were all really careful to not make too much of a hike in the cost of insurance,” said Tracy Street, a student member of the selection committee for the new health care plan.

Former student insurance plans were not able to provide as high a quality health care plan due to a lack of benefits and many exclusions of service.

“It was a phenomenal plan before the switch, but we made it even better,” said Street.

The plan is provided by BlueCross/BlueShield and includes a $2 million lifetime benefit.

“As long as you are on the plan and you are paying insurance, you can run up a bill of $2 million bucks and your bills are basically covered,” said Golden.

The new plan is an 80/20 plan, which means 80 percent of students’ costs are covered. However, once the bill goes to $10,000, then the plan goes to 100 percent coverage. The maximum a student would pay out of pocket is $2,000.

As well as a lifetime benefit increase of $150 million, the pharmaceutical benefit will be increased from a yearly maximum of $750 to $1,000, Golden said.

The new health care plan does not include a pre-existing health care clause and will cover services for students with pre-existing medical problems. A pre-existing health care clause usually does not cover pre-existing medical conditions and the services such a condition would require.

One of the most convenient benefits of the new student health care plan is the BlueCross/BlueShield provider, which means the network is now larger.

“Ninety-six percent of the providers and 100 percent of the hospitals in the state of Minnesota all are BlueCross/BlueShield providers and their network is worldwide,” Golden said.

With the new plan, students have access to health care across the nation. Students are also covered for evacuation from another country in an emergency situation.

Though the plan will cost students $40 more per semester, Golden said the new plan is much better benefit-wise and will attract more students to chose the University’s health care plan.

In the past, 5,500 students have enrolled in the University’s student health care plan. Golden expects that number to go up due to the enhanced benefits and the sizable network coverage.

Due to rising health care costs, insurance companies are charging parents more for claiming dependents. Because individual students are cheaper to insure, Golden said students can receive a better health care plan financially, from the University.

“You could never ever, as an individual out in the world, get a health care program like this for this price,” Street said, “It’s not even possible.”

 

Anne Preller covers student life
and welcomes comments at [email protected]