Recent changes to CSU’s graduate student health insurance policy are a positive step toward boosting CSU’s ability to recruit and retain graduates.
CSU had been behind the curve dealing with health insurance for graduate students. Nearly all peer institutions have provided greater health benefits for their graduate students than CSU.
We changed that in 2008 after Colorado enacted a policy allowing CSU to require its graduate students to enroll in a university-sponsored health insurance program. This allowed CSU to increase the amount of health insurance benefits it provides to its graduate students.
For students pleased with their current privately-provided plan, they could opt out of the university’s plan. But, in practice, opting out was nearly impossible. The result was that, due to mere technicalities, graduate students were unable to use perfectly acceptable private insurance policies and were forced to pay expensive and redundant premiums into CSU’s insurance policy.
Students couldn’t opt out because their private plans had to meet dozens of specific requirements set by Colorado state law. Since our graduate students come from across the country, it is obvious that our out-of-state students would have plans that cosmetically differ from the state’s regulations.
Now, due to an overdue policy change from CSU’s administration, these comparable but ever-so-slightly different private plans will be able to used as a substitute for the university’s insurance plan.
This change will make it easier to recruit and retain graduate students as they will be able to choose the health plan that is right for them — rather than forcing them into a plan that doesn’t suit their needs. In a time when many of us struggle to make ends meet, offering graduate students a cost-saving choice is the responsible move to make.