Waiver deadline allows for insurance opt out

Students+wait+in+line+at+the+pharmacy+window+at+McKinley+Health+Center+on+Lincoln+Ave.+

Madeline Pierce

Students wait in line at the pharmacy window at McKinley Health Center on Lincoln Ave.

By Julie Kang, Staff writer

Students who missed the deadline to waive University health insurance last semester can submit a waiver form to review existing coverage until Feb. 15.

The University requires all students to carry medical insurance. Students who do not have insurance at all or do not have insurance that meets the University’s minimum coverage standard are automatically enrolled in the student insurance plan the University provides.

Kim Dalluge, department manager of the Student Health Insurance Office, said for the Fall 2018 term, there were 12,806 domestic and 5,062 international undergraduate students enrolled in the school’s insurance plan. A total of 3,800 domestic graduate students and 5,292 international graduate students are enrolled in the same period. 

Cindy Kang, sophomore in LAS, is paying for the school’s health insurance plan because she is an international student from South Korea and does not have a personal insurance plan in the U.S.

However, Kang said she does not find the University’s insurance plan very beneficial.

“It’s also another financial burden, especially as an international student who has to pay a high tuition fee,” Kang said.

According to the Office of Student Health Insurance’s website, the 2018-19 academic year fees are $455 for undergraduate students and $582 for graduate students. 

Students must complete online waiver requests once every academic year to opt out of the automatic insurance plan.

Every student’s health insurance is assessed each semester, so if a student misses the deadline for a waiver one semester, they always have a chance to do it in the next term.

Austin Schmohe, sophomore in LAS, missed the first semester deadline to waive insurance because he thought the waiver carried over from the previous year.

Schmohe said although the student insurance plan provides decent coverage of most needs, it is a little expensive for what is offered.

According to the Office of Student Health Insurance’s website, the University’s insurance plan covers “inpatient, outpatient and emergency care, as well as providing mental health care and prescription drug coverage.”

Dalluge said a student can submit a waiver form in the fall, spring and summer terms. The registration period for this year’s spring term began Jan. 11.

The Student Health Insurance Office has a limited amount of time after the deadline passes to pay their underwriter, UnitedHealthcare Student Resources. Once the office pays UHCSR, they do not reimburse the University for any refunds given after the deadline.

“That comes out of our budget,” Dalluge said.

The Student Health Insurance Office is small and manages almost 27,000 students. Dalluge said they focus on customer service and aim to be the liaison for the student when they have questions regarding insurance.

“We hope to be the one to reach out to UnitedHealthcare for students if there are issues,” Dalluge said.

There are certain circumstances the office tries to understand if students miss the deadline. Robert Parker, director of McKinley Health Center, said if students believe the insurance office made a mistake in the waiver process, they can make an appeal for further consideration.

“We ask that the student provide in writing whatever extenuating circumstances may have existed,” Parker said in an email.

The appeals that students submit are discussed in weekly meetings with Parker, the associate director of McKinley Health Center and the Student Health Insurance office staff. Parker said the Student Health Insurance Office works to allow a one-time, short-term pass if students miss deadlines.

“We make every effort to have the opt-out deadline occur after the bill arrives just because some students don’t read their notices and realize the requirements of the hard waiver until after getting the bill,” Parker said.

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