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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Grads want more benefits for insurance plan

    Graduate and professional students want the Student Health Insurance Plan offered through Campus Health Service to expand its coverage to include prescription benefits, vision and dental care, according to the results of a survey.

    The Graduate and Professional Student Council conducted the survey, which was completed by 698 graduate and professional students through Student Link.

    “”The GPSC would like to see a plan that offers all students the opportunity to purchase supplemental dental and prescription coverage at a reasonable price, and we would also like to see all graduate assistants get that coverage as an employment benefit,”” said Paul Thorn, external affairs vice president of GPSC, in an e-mail.ÿ””The survey is intended to provide evidence that most graduate and professional students would like to see this sort plan too.””

    Ninety percent of those surveyed expressed concern with the plan’s range of benefits, citing the lack of prescription drug, vision and dental coverage.

    Cindy Knapp, who receives free coverage as a graduate assistant but pays for the additional coverage for her 1-year-old son, said she’s upset about the lack of prescription drug coverage, especially for family planning

    “”I don’t use any prescriptions in general, apart from birth control pills,”” Knapp said. “”I took them for years until the coverage slowly decreased, and I eventually stopped taking them because it became too expensive.””

    Knapp said she eventually got pregnant, and she and her husband had a son last year.

    Currently, United Health provides insurance to all the Arizona universities, but that contract will expire before the fall 2007 semester.

    The Student Health Insurance Plan is re-negotiated by the Arizona Board of Regents every five years. During the negotiation process, which is set to begin in the winter, the board of regents gets input and bids from insurance companies about what they offer in terms of premiums and benefits, said Kris Kreutz, director of administration for Campus Health.

    “”It is during this five-year cycle that the most profound change is likely to occur,”” Kreutz said.

    This year, the insurance costs $1,075 for a full year of coverage for a student, according to the Campus Health Web site.

    Kreutz estimated that graduate students represent 75 percent of the 5,400 students the plan covers each year, on average.

    The Graduate College pays for coverage for all teaching assistants, graduate assistants and research assistants – and 75 percent of those surveyed identifies themselves as such.

    Kreutz estimated that 2,400 students at the graduate level qualify for the free coverage.

    “”As long as someone else is paying for it, they want more benefits,”” Kreutz said. “”Although some have voiced that they would be willing to pay for additional coverage.””

    According to the survey, 83 percent said they would be willing to pay out-of-pocket between $0 and $20 for a dental plan and 61 percent said they would be willing to pay between $0 and $20 for prescription drug coverage.

    In the yearly renewal, Kreutz said Campus Health has asked United Health what it can offer in vision, dental and prescription coverage, but that if these features were added, it would be at an additional cost.

    “”You have to ask about the students who don’t want to pay for that, who can get by without it, as many within this group can,”” Kreutz said.

    If the additional coverage was voluntary, the price would go up even further, he said.

    Knapp said she would be willing to pay a small amount more to receive the coverage, but that she thinks the insurance is expensive enough.

    “”For my son, his (insurance) is absolutely absorbing,”” she said. “”Almost all my paycheck goes to paying for his insurance.””

    For the 2006-07 academic year, it cost an additional $3,147 to add a spouse to the insurance plan, $4,499 to add a spouse and children and $2,690 to add children, according to the Campus Health Web site.

    “”There has been concern about getting coverage for relatives, such as a spouse or children. It’s very expensive to add someone to the plan,”” Thorn said.

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