Students create ACA compliant health plan

The university’s student health insurance plan is not compliant with the Affordable Care Act, and a student task force has created a new, compliant proposal, which they consider to be more valuable than the current plan.

Graduate and Professional Student Council President Matt Ryg said the Student Insurance Task Force, created by then-Chancellor Rita Cheng in 2012 and overseen by Jim Hunsaker, assistant director of student health services, has created a plan that gives students more benefits for their dollar.

Ryg said while he could not discuss the details of the confidential, proposed plan, the university will eventually need to create an ACA compliant plan, which would consist of mandatory prescription coverage and optional spouse and dependent coverage. An ACA compliant plan would also have no limits on mental health care appointments and would not consist of a lifetime benefit cap.

“If I say we want a fully compliant plan with the ACA – we’re recommending a fully compliant plan – by definition, it includes these benefits,” Ryg said. “I can’t tell you how much [the new plan] costs, specifically how much more, but it’s between a quarter or a third more than [the $430-a-semester-plan] we’re paying for now.”

Undergraduate Student Government President Cameron Shulak said while the proposed plan would cost more, it is cheaper through the university plan than through an outside one.

“If you were a normal student – not in college – your normal 20-something-year-old, your health care premium is going to be very high under ObamaCare because your subsidizing older people that require more coverage,” he said. “Now as a student on a university plan, your pooled together with all these relatively healthy 20 something year olds and it brings the risk factor down significantly and allows that plan to be much cheaper.”

Shulak said the university applied for and received a waver for the current self-funded student health plan to remain in use until the end of the fall 2014 semester. He said the university must reapply for another waiver or create and implement an ACA compliant plan for the spring 2015 semester.

“The new plan could take place at anytime depending on the logistics, but if the waiver expires and isn’t renewed, then we’d need to have a compliant plan by the start of 2015,” he said.

Ryg said he, Shulak and two graduate student representatives from the task force will meet with President Randy Dunn at 1 p.m. on Thursday to discuss and ask for the proposed plan be added to the SIU Board of Trustees July 24 meeting agenda.

“If it were to be on the agenda for the July 24 meeting and possibly be approved that would be a definite step in getting the ball rolling,” Ryg said.

The task force consists of four undergraduate students appointed by USG, and four graduate students, two of which who were appointed by GPSC and two of which who were appointed by Graduate Assistants United.

“We want to make sure the students have the opportunity to obtain the best coverage possible and obtain the most benefits for their money, and the current plan that the school has right now doesn’t really do that,” Shulak said.

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