Dec 082009
Authors: Rachel Childs

A leader with a CSU health insurance consulting group met with a handful of graduate students Tuesday night to address concerns about the university’s health care policy ranging from birth control to pre-existing conditions, calling for student input on the issue.

The plan, which graduate students have said is too rigid, was mandated by the university in fall 2008 to build a pool of money that covers all health claims, which skyrocketed in the years leading up to the requirement.

Paul Mayo, senior vice president of Summit America, told a group of about 10 graduate students in the Lory Student Center’s Grey Rock Room that the policy was unsustainable before every graduate student was required to contribute money.

“The level we are at now is sustainable,” Mayo said, adding that the plan resembles socialized health care.

But students at the meeting said the requirement has many of them in financial shambles and called for more flexibility in the policy.

“It does help lower costs, but it is a cost to students,” said Seth Anthony, the president of the Graduate Student Council who also writes columns for the Collegian.

Mayo and Steve Blom, the director of CSU’s Health Network, emphasized student input, saying that they are working with Graduate Student Council to produce a survey for the broad graduate student population to gather suggestions to improve the program.

But Mayo said changes to the plan be would costly, using the example of including birth control — a move he said would cost students an extra $52 a year.

Mayo emphasized that the Health Network and Summit America are trying to make health care more affordable, as some students without insurance are forced to drop out in the face of enormous bills from unanticipated injuries or health complications.

CSU is one of the last universities in the state to require health insurance for its students, Mayo said.

Students can opt out of the requirement if they have a comparable existing plan.

Other companies that cover the entire student population include Blue Cross, Etna and Kaiser Permanente.

A stipend of $500 per semester is offered to graduate teaching assistants this year, and will rise to $650 by fall 2011.

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