Coverage confusion at Boynton

An e-mail sent out in the spring led some students to believe they’d receive free summer health care.

Some graduate students have accused Boynton Health Service of misleading them regarding free health coverage over the summer. Boynton said the charges were simply the result of a communication mishap.

A $315 charge awaited Graham Lampa , a 2008 graduate of the Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs , on his One Stop account when he checked it a few weeks ago.

Lampa said he perceived a Boynton e-mail sent to all Twin Cities campus students to mean he would receive free health insurance over the summer.

“There was never any mention of us having to pay for it,” he said.

In part, the April 11 e-mail read: “As of 2008, the health care coverage you receive at Boynton Health Service during spring semester will extend through the summer – regardless of whether or not you are taking summer classes.”

Other Humphrey students sent Lampa word of their Boynton charges, ranging from $156 to $469.

“If we had known that we were going to have to pay a bunch of money over the summer,” Lampa said, “then many of us probably would have gone in and gotten some lingering health issues checked out.”

One student told Lampa in an e-mail, “I also read and re-read the info about the extension of health care services, and thought that it was included in what had already been paid. Guess not. Great.”

Boynton representatives said the e-mail promised extended coverage of a student’s specific spring insurance plan, not simply free summer coverage, and they sent out a second e-mail specifically to graduate students to clear up confusion.

For Lampa and students like him, this means extended coverage – and billing – for the Graduate Assistance Plan , where the University and the student split the payment depending on how often the student worked for the University, called an “appointmentship.”

This means graduate students covered by the plan still need to pay the part not covered by the University over the summer, Duncan Okello , supervisor of the graduate and student insurance office at Boynton, said.

“Most grad assistants assumed that there’s no charge over the summer, but the University made its contribution so they were expected to make their contribution,” he said.

Lampa said his fall and spring appointments totaled to full University support and was told by Boynton that his billing was simply a mistake.

However, Okello said most other students will have to pay their share – graduate students were reminded of the chance to cancel their coverage before the end of spring semester, he said.

Summer Coverage

Extended summer coverage for students paying spring student service fees is new this year, Boynton director of public health and communication Dave Golden said.

“To make [insurance] just during the school year is kind of odd,” Golden said of the previous plan, which included no summer coverage.

The plan was submitted three times to the student service fees committee before it was approved in spring 2007 for 2007-08 students.

A March report from the U.S. Government Accountability Office found that 80 percent of college students had some form of health insurance in 2006.

Furthermore, 82 percent of four-year public schools offered students insurance.

Boynton’s 2007 College Student Health Survey found more than 14 percent of Twin Cities campus students were uninsured.