Students speak out about university insurance policy

By Gus Bode

Every student is able to use their own health insurance, according to the Student Health Center’s website, but there proves to be an exception.

Jim Hunsaker, assistant director of the student health insurance department, said Medicaid — a government-funded program provided to lower income families — is an unacceptable form of student insurance.

Information provided by Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services and SIUC Student Health Center website – Sabrina Immundo | Daily Egyptian

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Although Medicaid covers students’ expenses, it is not a commercial insurance policy, which is why students who are covered under Medicaid are still required to purchase university insurance.

“If students were to use their Medicaid health plan, SIU would pay expenses first and Medicaid would pay a small portion of the remaining amount,” Hunsaker said. “SIU’s goal is to always be the payor of last resort, not the primary source.”

Students who have a credible form of health insurance outside of SIU are eligible for a $300 insurance refund at the beginning of each semester, according to the Student Health Center website. Those who do not have any form of alternative insurance are required to use the university’s.

Marla Baker, a graduate student studying public administration from Chicago, said she understands the logic behind the refund policy but does not understand why she has to purchase insurance from the university. Baker, a Medicaid program participant, said Medicaid covers all of  her medical expenses.

According to Medicaid’s website, the policy states that holders have 100 percent coverage for medical expenses, yet the university’s health care covers only 85 percent of total expenses for students under their plan.

“My frustration is not targeted at the fact that I do not receive a refund; it is based on fees we are expected to pay the university for insurance that doesn’t provide full coverage,” Baker said.

Hunsaker said many students are misinformed about the Medicaid program, as many believe it to be insurance. Medicaid is not an insurance policy but a program through the state that assists those who cannot afford health insurance.

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Keilani Riley, a sophomore from Chicago studying pre-nursing, said it was an inconvenience for her to have to deal with extra fees. Because she has children, Riley said she is not able to use the health center to its fullest because her children cannot be treated there.

“It would be best if SIU just gave us the same options and consideration they give other students,” Riley said.

Because the Student Health Center does not provide on-site pediatricians, students with children are referred to other medical centers in the surrounding areas.

“If we started covering dependent children, it would be cost-prohibitive,” Hunsaker said. “It’s an unfortunate situation, but it’s the rules.”

He said the only form of non-student coverage SIU offers is for students’ spouses for an additional fee of $215.

According to SIU insurance records, an estimated 13,000 students have SIU-based insurance, including a significant amount of students with children.

Keba Fletcher, senior from Chicago studying early childhood development and mother of two, said if she were able to receive the money from the refund, she could put it toward other things. She said it is already difficult being a single-parent student because there is only one income supporting her family.

“Money spent on extra insurance could be used to take care of my childrens’ personal needs,” Fletcher said.

 

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