Student health plan changes

Mary Fisher

As Congress debates President Barack Obama’s health care reform proposal, St. Edward’s University has made its own changes to its student health insurance program.

This year, the university changed the student health insurance plan from Texas True Choice to Multiplan for the fall 2009-2010 school year, said Willard Pannabecker, the director of Counseling and Health Services. The insurance provider, Academic HealthPlans, remained the same. 

Mary Jones, a nurse practitioner in the university’s Health Center, said the switch has not drastically changed student’s coverage and Multiplan is similar to Texas True Choice, except for two differences.

The new plan offers students a stronger discount than the old plan. In addition, when students visit the health center and receive a referral before going to another doctor, the student’s co-payment is now waived.

“Under the health plan, students pay 20 percent while St. Edward’s pays 80 percent,” said Jones. “The new health plan keeps the same payment ratio but offers a greater discounted price, so the student pays less money.”

Under the new health plan, students pay $479 per semester and $301 for the summer. The spring semester payment also covers the summer, so if spring is paid for, summer is not a separate cost.

Deductibles for individuals not in the university’s health plan can cost more than $1,000 a year.

The co-payment for a visit to a doctor’s office outside of the university is a set amount the student is required to pay upon the initial visit. The university’s health plan requires a $25 co-payment per visit.

“This saves money for both parties,” said Jones. “The health center can take care of anything that does not need specialist, or, if a specialist is required, we can refer the student with no extra cost for the student.”

In order to inform students about the changes, St. Edward’s sent out a notice to students who were signed up for school health care. However, some students did not receive the information.

“I knew that they changed the plan, but that’s really it,” said Xavier Trevino, a senior.

Trevino said even though St. Edward’s informed students, they should have done more.

“I was pretty upset when tuition when up,” said Trevino. “But, if I would’ve known more about the changes and how they help me, it would’ve made me feel better. Any help is good.”

Other students, like Irma DeLaCruz, agreed.

“I would have liked to been more informed,” said DeLaCruz. “I wish they would tell more people.”

The university did not feel the need to advertise the changes because they were extremely minor, Jones said.

DeLaCruz also worried about her new insurance card, which she has not received yet. Most students who are covered by St. Edward’s insurance are in a similar situation.

Peter J. Beilharz, the student financial services bursar, said Academic Health Plans waits to send out the insurance cards until after the 12th class day.

“We do this because it gives the students more time to decide whether they want insurance or not,” he said.

Additionally, a lot of students unintentionally check the insurance box on EdWeb without meaning to, Beilharz said.

Jones said if students get sick, they can download an temporary insurance card online to print out.

“They still receive coverage from the effective date until the end of the semester, they just won’t receive their cards until later,” said Beilharz.

Insurance coverage, until MultiPlan, went into effect for the fall semester on Aug. 20.