Healthcare costs rise for students, comply with govt

The cost of student healthcare insurance provided by UnitedHealthcare for services at Eastern Michigan University’s Snow Health Center has risen to $1,395 from last year’s $995.

Zachary Jones, a student at EMU’s College of Technology, is not convinced that the price increase is justifiable.

“I don’t have health coverage because I can’t afford it, and now I really can’t afford it,” he said. “In this day and age we’re trying to keep healthcare cost down and this hike was pretty high for one year.”

In previous years, the cost has stayed below $1,000 per academic year: $943 for 2009-10; $943 for 2010-11 and $995 for 2011-12.

While this increase may seem excessive compared to previous years, cost isn’t the only alteration. Healthcare on campus has evolved to become compliant with Obamacare.

“We try to make minimal changes to the insurance, but these changes were mandated by the federal government,” Snow Health Center Senior Account Specialist Pat Short said.

In the past, vaccinations, preventative services and mental health care weren’t covered, and a $10 copay was required for services rendered.

In comparison to other university health insurance policies, EMU is competitive in its prices and its care. The University of Michigan’s cost for a single student is $2,974 annually, in addition to $20 co-pay per visit.

The University of Toledo has two plans. The least expensive is Plan 1 for a single student at $2,016.

Fees are assessed for the coming year based on multiple factors, including the number of students enrolled in the plan. For the 2011-2012 school year, that number was approximately 975 students.

“Essentially, the more people we have on the policy the cheaper the premiums,” Director of University Health Services at EMU Mandy Lefeld said. “It’s a weird process.”

With a broader spectrum of coverage this year, there was sure to be a monetary increase.

“We knew it would be a hit,” Lefeld said. “We really have no control.”

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