Health insurance debate over

Alison Kemp and Alison Kemp

The Health Services Advisory Committee has announced Chickering as the company they will recommend for next year’s mandatory student health insurance.

The recommended plan will be 5 to 10 percent cheaper than the current one which Chickering offers students at the University, according to members of the Health Services Advisory Committee. This year’s plan cost $1,350 for the year.

The new plan will also include a number of new services.

Pharmaceutical coverage has been raised from $2,000 to $3,000.

There is a discount plan for vision coverage and dental coverage will also be offered to all students.

And for the first time, birth control has been added to the plan.

Birth control was never covered before because it increased the premium cost for all students. This year, Chickering ‘offered a good deal with the premium,’ so adding birth control was affordable, said Maria Khoury, who is one of three Undergraduate Student Government representatives on the Health Services Advisory Committee.

Abortion will continue to be included in the new recommended insurance plan, said Robin Sinn, the chair of the Health Services Advisory Committee.

This decision to recommend to continue offering abortion coverage came despite opposition from a few students.

Falcons for Life Adviser Priscilla Coleman said she was surprised that there is no option to opt out of the abortion portion of the insurance.

Sinn explained that the company providing the insurance, Chickering, said abortion coverage either is or is not part of the proposal. There are no opportunities to opt-out of abortion coverage.

As for students complaining about paying for abortions as part of their coverage when they are morally opposed to abortions, Glenn Egelman, director and chief physician at the Health Center, said he’s heard only one student complain.

‘The campus community needs to realize the Health Services Advisory Committee has taken one concern very seriously,’ Egelman said.

Sinn said that students are on the advisory board and that they talked to other students about their concerns for the health insurance plan.

In addition to the changes of the insurance plan, all students will be required to have medical coverage.

Next school year, all students with more than eight credit hours on the main campus will be automatically enrolled in the University’s health insurance plan unless they can prove they have adequate insurance coverage already.

The student health insurance plan for the 2006-2007 school year has not been finalized by the Board of Trustees. The proposal was sent to Edward Whipple, the vice president of student affairs on Feb. 13.

Listening to the students is something Egelman feels was effectively done, which makes the proposed policy even better than last year’s.

‘The [committee] has been diligent, thoughtful and serious in considerations,’ Egelman said.