Sunday, March 2, 2008

Cracks in the University Health insurance plan

As it was mentioned in a previous post, all U of M students who enroll in classes must either buy the University’s health insurance, which is added to your tuition, or provide proof of insurance from another insurance company. This is done as a way to ensure all students are insured in case of an emergency. However, this is not always the case. Some students have found a way to get around paying for student insurance.
Joy and “Sue” (who both wanted to remain anonymous for fear of having the University find out) do not have any insurance. Joy, a University junior, said last year when enrolling for classes, she didn’t want to have to pay for the U insurance because the tuition was already high, so she opted to provide proof of outside insurance. She said she used an expired insurance card from her last insurance company. Joy said the University never questioned her insurance eligibility because the insurance policy was valid at one point. When asked how she feels about being uninsured, Joy said she feels lucky that she has never needed to go to the doctor in the past year for an emergency or anything. She did say however that next fall when she registers for class, she might end up buying the University insurance just in case she needs it.
“Sue” is an international student in her senior year of college at the University. She said she also used an expired insurance card when she registered for classes in the spring semester. “Sue” said that she doesn’t see the need for University insurance because she has never needed it before. She said that after college, after getting a job, she will then sign up for insurance but with tuition and other college expenses, it doesn’t seem necessary.
According to the University’s OneStop Web site, any student who is registering for six credits or more is required to have insurance and violation of this policy is against the Student Conduct Code. There is a form located in the Web site for students to fill out, which describes the process of signing up for insurance.
“Fill in the name of your insurance company, insurance company phone number, and policy number, and sign the bottom of this form. If you do not provide complete information, you will be charged for the Health Benefit Plan. You may receive a full refund by returning this information to one of the student service centers or by accessing your student record through the Web by the end of the first week of classes. *This information is subject to periodic audits. Providing inaccurate or false information may result in unexpected charges. It is also a violation of the Student Conduct Code*,” as stated on OneStop.
The Student Conduct Code lists various polices that students are required to follow and the actions taken if they are broken. These range in severity starting from a written or oral warning to Expulsion and withholding a degree.
With such a large University, it is impossible to monitor every student to make sure they have valid health insurance. How many more are out there?

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