Health care options change for students

by Tara Richelo

Last fall, University Health Services (UHS) terminated its contract with United Healthcare Student Resources. The current health insurance plan offered to students runs through Aetna Student Health.

The change occurred after UHS completed a Request for Proposal in order to reevaluate their service with United Healthcare Student Resources. UHS had been unsatisfied and hoped to address some of the problems they and the students had encountered. Specifically, UHS wanted to improve the benefits that were available to students who purchase a UHS plan.

Manager of Student Insurance, Karen Kline, said, “We were looking for the best plan for our students that was going to be compliant with health care reform…Aetna Student Health is looking ahead to health care reform and how things are going to be impacted.”

The Affordable Care Act became a law on March 23, 2010, regulating health insurance requirements between employers and employees. The essential health benefit categories included in the Affordable Care Act include preventive and wellness services, laboratory services, prescription drugs, hospitalization, mental health and substance use, disorder services, maternity and newborn care and several others.

Under the act, health care plans must allow persons under 26 years of age to remain on their parents’ plan, remove lifetime essential benefit limits and eliminate the exclusion of persons under 19 years of age with preexisting conditions.

The new UHS plan with Aetna Student Health is compliant with these requirements.

The overall cost of health insurance provided by University Health Services has increased due to the change in providers. An annual plan costs $2,137, which breaks down to $842 for only fall semester coverage and $1,295 for only spring semester coverage.

Aetna Student Health will now offer a discounted dental section as well as cover acne, assistant surgeons, and multiple office visits on one day, none of which was previously covered. Additionally, the benefits no longer have a yearly maximum putting a dollar limit on the cost for an injury or sickness. Instead, costs will be unlimited.

The cost for prescriptions purchased and filled at UHS are now 100 percent covered through Aetna Student Health. Also, Aetna Student Health will cover 50 percent of prescriptions purchased and filled outside of UHS.

Students who want to use University Health Services for medical needs, but do not have Aetna Student Health, will be billed to their bursar account. Between one and two weeks later, they will receive an e-mail alerting them that their bill is ready. From there, students can print out the bill and send it to their own insurance company for reimbursement.

While it may be difficult for the students to navigate this process, it would be highly unrealistic to expect UHS to handle it for each student. This could be a good opportunity for students to learn to handle another aspect of their rapidly approaching adult lives.

In past years, health insurance offered through the university covered between 8,000 and 9,000 students, including their spouses and children. The number has yet to be finalized for this year.

Given all of the services and affordable pricing UHS offers, students may still have a hard time utilizing them. For the fall semester, UHS is open Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Wednesday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Weekdays are appointment only and Saturdays are walk-in only. Therefore,