Health insurance costs a barrier for students

Sean Madigan

Despite efforts in the Senate to strengthen consumers’ foothold in a health care system dominated by managed care, many University students will still be footing the bill on their own.
Boynton Health Service estimates that more than 15 percent of all University students and 25 percent of all graduate students do not have health insurance. The University requires that all students taking six or more credits must have some sort of hospitalization plan to provide coverage beyond treatment covered in student services fees.
But Boynton spokesman Dave Golden said a dangerous number of students falsify registration information and use outdated proof of coverage to avoid expensive insurance costs.
“It’s a big risk to take on, in life in general,” Golden said of living without health insurance. He said the biggest reason students are willing to go without insurance is cost.
An international student from Saudi Arabia, who wishes to remain anonymous, said he does not have health insurance because it is too expensive. His international student status does not permit him to work more than 20 hours a week; his parents’ insurance carrier does not cross international borders.
“If something happened, I hope that my parents would cover the costs directly,” the student said.
Many traditional students are initially covered through a parent’s insurance company, but are often dropped soon after graduation. Most graduate and nontraditional students are not covered under a parent’s plan because they are beyond a certain age of eligibility.
Graduate student Lachlan Mead has health insurance through his University employment package. Mead, a teaching assistant in the English department, said he would purchase insurance if he did not already have it, but the cost would swallow a “huge chunk” of his salary.
The University contracts a private insurance plan, the Student Insurance Plan, which approximately 15 percent of all University students chose to carry. The student plan costs $453 a semester or $75.50 a month.
Although Golden said the plan is “considerably cheaper” than other plans on the market with similar coverage, the cost of the plan is large expense for a student’s budget.