Stricter health insurance policy for registration to start in spring

Students with smaller health care providers will need to provide extra proof.

Kali Dingman

Changes to the University of Minnesota’s health insurance waiver process will go into effect before students register for fall 2012 courses.

Students with smaller health care providers will have to submit an additional certificate of coverage from the insurance company. Students have been reporting their health insurance based on an honor system.

Eighty-five percent of insurance can be waived electronically, said Boynton Health Service’s Chief Operating Officer Carl Anderson — the majority of students will see little change to their registration process.

One difference for all students is that once coverage is verified, students will receive a two-year waiver instead of one each semester, said Susann Jackson, director of student health benefits.

The University began requiring health insurance as a condition of enrollment in 1975 because so many uninsured students had been hospitalized but weren’t able to pay, Jackson said. Now, some students are continuing to slip through the cracks by not having existing health insurance or neglecting to sign up for the Student Health Benefit Plan.

Some students have been taking advantage of the honor system — 8 percent don’t have coverage, Jackson said.

The University requires students to have health insurance if they are admitted to a degree program and registered for six or more credits per semester that count toward the automatic assessment of the Student Services Fee.

Ferdinand Schlapper, Boynton’s chief health officer, said most colleges and universities require students have health insurance “to provide them a safety net against significant unplanned medical expenses.”

For fall, the Office of Student Health Benefits will verify existing coverage before students can obtain the waiver that allows them to register.

When registering for classes, students must have eligible health plan coverage from an insurance company listed on the registration page that the Office of Student Health Benefits can verify electronically, like Medica, Blue Cross Blue Shield and HealthPartners.

A student not covered by one of the insurance providers listed but insured by another insurance company like Golden Rule must provide a certificate of coverage from the company.

Students without coverage must enroll in the Student Health Benefit Plan. The nonrefundable semester coverage fee is charged to the students’ student accounts.

“By having an institutional requirement, the University is able to provide a comprehensive health benefit plan that ensures all students have access to health care during their academic career,” Jackson said.

The change in the waiver process will make certain the insurance requirement is met by verifying the health plan coverage information students submit for the waiver, she said.

“We’re just tightening up enforcement,” Schlapper said.

Students will receive a letter in the mail explaining the procedure next week before class registration starts.