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November 30, 2023

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Trustees mandate health insurance

By a unanimous vote the Board of Trustees passed a motion Friday for mandatory student health insurance for all undergraduate students, effective Fall semester 2006.

The mandate passed with a hard waiver – currently in place for international students and graduate students. Under a hard waiver students are required to have a health insurance plan comparable to the University’s plan, and must provide evidence of their insurance.

Students who do not have adequate insurance will be required to purchase the University’s plan.

“Of our undergraduate students, approximately 90 percent are covered under another insurance plan such as under their parents,” said Ed Whipple, vice president in the division of student affairs.

Prior to passing the hard waiver, undergraduate students were under a voluntary insurance plan, meaning they would not have to show any proof of insurance to the University.

The vote by the board came after both Undergraduate Student Government and Graduate Student Senate approved the proposal last spring.

An insurance company for the University’s plan is expected to be determined by spring semester, according to Whipple.

“The goal is to have the most comprehensive plan at the lowest cost,” Whipple said.

The current University plan is through The Chickering Group and costs about $1,350 annually.

“The Chickering Group is the single most common student health insurance plan,” said Glenn Egelman, director and physician in chief of student health services.

The key to a hard waiver is as more students buy the University insurance, rates should decrease after two to three years.

“Because more students are buying health insurance the claims are spread out. Over a period of time the cost of insurance starts to decline as more students are buying insurance,” Whipple said.

The key to cost decreasing is the number of students purchasing the University plan.

“A well run and well utilized plan with good experience make the rates go down,” Egelman said. “If we have everyone waiving out of the plan it’s not going to work.”

The number of students who have purchased the University’s plan this year has not been determined yet, Egelman said.

Last year about 1,300 to 1,400 students were on the student health insurance plan.

To compare to the University’s plan a student’s health insurance will have to cover the same areas and have similar maximum and minimum coverage.

“Many family health insurance plans will be comparable,” Whipple said.

For students who have comparable insurance evidence of insurance can be a copy of their insurance card, Whipple said.

The University’s health insurance plan is expected to be folded in with students’ financial aid packages.

“The insurance will be considered a cost of attendance and will then be taken into consideration with books and with financial aid,” Egelman said.

The financial consequences of not having health insurance can be severe.

“You can’t afford not to have it,” Whipple said. “One bad accident could wipe an individual out.”

Both USG and GSS say they will continue to work with the board to pick a student health insurance carrier for next year that students will be able to afford.

“We’re meeting regularly with Dr. Egelman and the board to make sure they are aware there are students out there who may not be able to meet the plan,” said Aaron Shumaker, president of USG.

Zach Hilpert, president of GSS has seen students struggle with health insurance costs.

“Many students this year are already feeling the burden of health insurance on their budgets,” he said.

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