Category Archive - Student

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Will Student Health Insurance Survive?

Tuesday, October 12th, 2010

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The shape of health insurance plans is set to change due to healthcare reform. Health coverage for students is no different.

Colleges and universities all over the country are waiting with bated breath for new guidelines from the Department of Health and Human Services. They want to ensure that their offerings meet the minimum standard for adequate coverage as “Bronze Plans”. If not, such plans are in danger of disappearing: students with employed parents can stay on their health insurance until age 26, while others can buy coverage through the newly-created health insurance exchange markets.

Student health insurance is often maligned for charging high rates for inferior coverage–especially nonsensical given the generally young and healthy population. Moreover, many campuses have their own mandates.

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Grad Students’ Affordable Health Insurance Struggles

Tuesday, August 24th, 2010

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affordable health insurance

Many students struggle with finding affordable health insurance. The situation for graduate students is even worse: they are often too old to be eligible to remain on their parents’ health insurance plans (even post-healthcare reform), and out-of-network co-payments are extremely high. At the same time, some graduate school programs require full-time hours, preventing students from finding a full-time job that offers coverage. They may also believe that their small stipends will not cover individual health insurance.

In the case of Purdue grad students, their premiums increased by over one quarter this year! Inferior coverage for dependents is the worst part of all. Spouses of international grad students, who normally don’t have work visas, are beholden to the university’s coverage. Unfortunately, the in-network health care facility does not provide essential services such as access to pediatricians or obstetricians, forcing family members to use expensive out-of-network care.

A study showed that other Big Ten universities provide superior health care for their graduate student populations, although they still have their pitfalls.

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When Student Health Insurance Isn’t Enough

Tuesday, May 25th, 2010

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Student health insurance is generally helpful to the majority of college and university populations, who are young and healthy. However, sometimes it’s not sufficient.

It may not cover everything you need. For example, insurance might only cover the partial cost of treating accident-related or athletic injuries. With the high-deductible health insurance plans often targeted towards this demographic, they may have to chip in with thousands of dollars they are unlikely to have.

When it comes to health insurance, the options marketed towards students are far more likely to have annual and lifetime benefit limits. Healthcare reform will ban this practice, but that will take time to fully implement.

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Student Health Insurance Stays Active During Summer Vacation

Friday, May 21st, 2010

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Good news for many college students: in most cases, your student health insurance won’t expire during the summer, even if you just graduated.

Of course, it depends on the particular plan; make sure to call your health insurance company to find out if you can keep your coverage over the summer months. If not, you may need to buy short term health insurance for the interim period.

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Recent College Graduate? Good Health Insurance News!

Tuesday, May 4th, 2010

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It’s college graduation season. After all the pomp and circumstance, there are still some issues to deal with. If you bought student health insurance with your university, it will probably expire soon.

In this economy, the vast majority of graduates don’t have a job already lined up. Even if you do, you’ll need health insurance to fill the gap before it becomes effective.

What can you do? Individual health insurance is always a good option, but there’s another bright spot: you can stay on or rejoin your parents’ health policy until the age of 27. Although the healthcare reform law doesn’t require that until the end of September, many major health insurance companies have decided to change their rules early. Check with a licensed agent to see if your family’s plan is one of them.

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Student Health Insurance Investigation Finds Problems

Friday, April 9th, 2010

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After an investigation, New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo believes that many providers of student health insurance are offering inferior coverage for higher rates. In effect, they receive far more in premiums than they pay out in claims.

College students have been a boon to health insurance companies: the typical student is their perfect customer–the young, healthy adult with no pre-existing conditions. Their policies are profitable, and help pay for other policyholders’ claims. Over half of America’s universities require their students to have health coverage for safety reasons, but some are able to negotiate better deals from insurers than others.

The issue is that there aren’t many of those sicker patients in the student pools, so the more expensive premiums are largely moot. Since students are looking for affordable health insurance, many colleges keep costs down by providing very little in benefits (despite state regulations meant to prevent that). Many plans don’t cover injuries sustained while intoxicated, an issue for many in this environment.

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College Funding and Student Health Insurance

Friday, March 19th, 2010

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There’s a strange, unrelated provision in the healthcare reform bill: college grants. Over the next decade, the bill would put $60 billion towards Pell Grants. The grants help low-income college students afford higher education. While that’s certainly a worthy goal, its relation to health insurance plans is tenuous, at best.

In effect, it satisfies progressive House members who believe that the Senate bill is not comprehensive enough. The amount also includes money the Congressional Black Caucus pushed for in order to aid historically black colleges and universities. Since the provisions are related to the budget, they can pass through the reconciliation process. However, Republicans will surely take the opportunity to decry the unrelated inclusions.

With increased Pell Grants, more young adults will be able to attend college. As a result, they will need student health insurance. Many universities already require their students to be insured, and the reform bill includes a national mandate with subsidies.

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One in Four Young Adults Without Student Health Insurance

Wednesday, February 24th, 2010

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A recent survey from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control has found that nearly one in four young adults and students lack affordable health insurance. That’s probably the reason why one-fourth of American adults ages 18-24 haven’t seen a doctor in more than one year!

Putting off preventative care can lead to major health problems and higher costs in the long run. Young adults in college can buy student health insurance that covers primary care doctor visits; in fact, many universities require their students to be insured. Even if yours doesn’t, it’s still a good investment in your health care. Meanwhile, others can buy individual health insurance.

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Young Voters Still Support Healthcare Reform

Tuesday, February 2nd, 2010

Health Insurance Reform and Young Adults

A lot of attention has gone towards Americans who are angry at the Democratic party for overreaching on healthcare reform. The issue appears likely to endanger Democrats’ chances in this fall’s midterm elections. Frustrations expressed by the other side, whose who feel that the Obama administration’s proposed reforms don’t do enough to provide greater access to affordable health insurance, have received less attention. If it looks like the Obama administration and Congress plan to ignore their concerns, they may tune out of the political process altogether.

That seems to be changing. An increasing number of political pundits are speculating that the young adults that propelled President Obama into office in 2008 will be absent from the polls this November. While it is common for this demographic to skip voting on electoral off-years, it puts the Democrats in even more danger. Republicans have made some inroads by warning of the impact healthcare reform would have; namely that forbidding many pricing practices that many consider discriminatory to those of a certain age or with pre-existing conditions will harm young voters by making individual and Speaker Pelosi under CC 2.0)

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Student Health Insurance Recovers From Extended Illness

Friday, January 29th, 2010

Strapped by tuition increases and declining enrollment, U.S. colleges and universities are cracking the books in hopes of graduating and moving past their own health insurance reform crises.

According to a story appearing today on CMN – College Media Network, Portland State University’s voluntary student health insurance program is slowly dying.

PSU health insurance, currently underwritten by Aetna Life Insurance Company, provides two different plans: basic and supplemental.

The basic plan covers visits to the the university’s medical facilities. The supplemental plan is preferred for outside doctors and emergency room visits. PHU spokesman Walden
Poublon explained that since students who utilize the supplemental plan often need and seek expensive health care, the insurance providers lose money each year, causing rates to increase or coverage in the plan to decrease in order to stay affordable.

PSU is among a growing list of public and private colleges and universities extending health coverage to students at a lower premium than they could obtain for themselves. While considered by parents and students to be a benefit, the challenge for such schools is to make plans more affordable so more will purchase it, thus creating a larger pool of money available for everyone’s health care.

Over time, fewer students have elected to enroll in the supplemental plan while prices have increased. This trend has decreased the pool of money available to students, which is why insurance providers lose money and are forced to increase rates. This is the “death spiral,” Poublon said.

PSU recently signed with Aetna after receiving competing quotes from other health insurance companies. But was clear that the current plan with Aetna is merely a Band-Aid solution that is not sustainable and is on borrowed time. If the past is any indication of what to expect in the future, few students will elect optional supplemental plans, causing insurance companies to lose money and then increase rates or decrease coverage.

But student health insurance is recovering thanks in part to creativity on behalf of college administrators forced to either abandon coverage or grow their groups.

As for PSU, Oregon State University and University of Oregon are in talks about the possibility of pooling students at all three campuses to buy a mandatory hard-waiver health care plan as a group. This could lower insurance costs for all three schools.

A mandatory hard-waiver health insurance policy would require students to be covered by a comprehensive health insurance plan that would be a part of students’ tuition and fees. Students may be excluded from the plan if they have comparable health insurance through a parent or employer.

This would prevent students who already have health insurance outside of the school from paying a mandatory health fee each term—essentially “opting out.” Another benefit is that students could have access to better health insurance that could be paid by financial aid.

Other schools have successfully adopted hard-waiver programs. Aetna Student Health has implemented hard-waiver programs at approximately 80 institutions, including Boston College, Clemson University, Cornell University, Dartmouth College, Duke University, Harvard University, Northwestern University, Miami University and the University of Pennsylvania.

The economy is partly to blame for the decrease in health coverage for students. Operational shortfalls have resulted in tuition increases at many schools, leaving less money for parents and students to put toward coverage.

“Some students have to make the choice between health and school. Meal or education,” Poublon said. “[It’s an] impossible choice to make.”

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