Student health insurance cost increases in fall semester

By Rebecca Wood, Staff Writer

As the deadline passes to opt-out of student health insurance, premiums increase for students, reaching $554 per semester. 

Kimberly Dalluge, medical insurance manager at the University of Illinois Student Health Insurance, said this had to do with their Medical Loss Ratio which compares the amount of premium to the cost of healthcare.

“Our MLR has shot up,” Dalluge said. “It should be around 80%, and it’s actually been way over 100%.”  

Dalluge explained the increase in MLR means claims the University were processing were paying out more than the premium they were taking in. 

At this point, Dalluge said she suspects the price will increase again next year. 

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However, she explained the student health insurance program has vastly grown and improved since she started this job 27 years ago. 

At the time, the University was using Blue Cross Blue Shield health insurance. In 1997, the University used the Mega Life and Health Insurance Company, which was bought out by United Healthcare in 2006, Dalluge said. 

“So if you had appointments, chiropractor, physical therapy, all you had as far as benefit was $1,000,” Dalluge said. 

Dalluage said a common misconception is that the Student Health Insurance Office is related to McKinley Health Center. 

McKinley Health Center and the Counseling Center require students pay a health service fee once per semester, according to their website

“We are the insurance (students) can use outside of McKinley,” Dalluge said. 

According to the website, the fee covers areas such as office visits, x-rays and access to a 24-hour nurse; but does not cover areas such as MRAs, CT scans or immunizations. 

Anna Zirpolo, senior in Media, opts to have student health insurance due to the benefits it provides and the ability to use it at various providers. 

“(Student) health insurance can be sort of confusing sometimes,” Zirpolo said. “But I am very thankful that if I get sick, I will not have to worry too much about the logistics of insurance and paying for medical care.” 

Typically, student health insurance covers over half of students in the fall, reaching nearly two-thirds of students, according to Dalluge. 

Leo Lee, senior in LAS, opts to have student health insurance but finds himself using his personal insurance instead. 

“I didn’t know if there was anything covered by the University that my personal might not cover or might be cheaper to cover through the University,” Lee said. “So, I opted to get both.”  

Lee said he has used his personal insurance on campus for several reasons, including paying for pneumonia treatment, for emergency bills his sophomore year and medication from Walgreens. 

According to Dalluge, about 20% of students covered by student health insurance have more than one insurance. She said they provide for students from out of state or country, or with insurance from Chicago, whose insurance coverage does not reach Champaign-Urbana. 

Lee said the University could better detail and explain the student health insurance plan. From his viewing of the website, he said he found it primarily focuses on emergency care and preventative treatment from Carle Foundation Hospital.  

“They send a lot of emails, but at the same time, online it just says certain things that they might cover,” Lee said. 

Zirpolo said she believes the University does a good job of providing information to students about student health insurance. She explained she has utilized both the website and the Student Health Insurance Office to better understand her plan. 

“My experiences using student health insurance were fairly straightforward,” Zirpolo said. “I do not think that there are any large negatives of the student health insurance program.” 

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