Renee Hill pays her own way through college.
This year, she is spending hundreds of dollars more on
Student health insurance offered through Hartshorn Health
Service has increased 38 percent since last year.
Hill, a senior biology major, budgeted for this year’s expenses
based on last year’s $970 health insurance price tag.
She was surprised instead to find that insurance would cost
$1,340 for the year.
“Insurance was taken right out of my student loans,” Hill said.
“I had to have my mom send me a check to cover it, and then I had
to refund her.”
The insurance coverage offered by Hartshorn is an optional plan
for most CSU students. However, international students are required
to purchase CSU’s insurance or something equivalent.
Both domestic and international students are feeling overwhelmed
by the insurance cost increase.
Nischal Piratla, an international graduate student studying
electrical engineering, said the increase has been hard on his
“Any increase like this will really throw off our financial
planning,” Piratla said.
Insurance is up 38 percent from last year, but over the last
five years it has only increased an average of 11 percent each
year, said Stephen Blom, director of Hartshorn Health Service. This
is 4 percent less than the national average increase of 15 percent
A number of reasons caused the increase, but it is specifically
attributed to several costly claims filed by CSU students in the
2003 to 2004 school year.
“We experienced some very high claims such as a student with
cancer and a pregnancy of premature twins,” Blom said. “People on
the plan got a lot of money for medical costs.”
International students are given the option of choosing another
equivalent insurance plan. However, a plan comparable to CSU’s is
hard to find. CSU requires the insurance be sold in semester- or
yearlong increments without the ability to cancel it.
“Many (international students) tried to find equivalent
insurance, but we can never find it,” Piratla said.
CSU’s insurance plan carrier, Guarantee Trust Life, proposed a
55 percent increase for this year because the company’s losses
exceeded its profits, Blom said. However, Hartshorn ended the
35-year contract with Guarantee Trust Life in favor of the lesser
38 percent increase offered by TIG Premier Insurance Company, CSU’s
new insurance carrier.
Colorado automobile insurance laws also contributed to the
increase. Because automobile insurance companies are no longer
required to pay the medical expenses caused by an accident, health
insurance companies must now pay those claims.
“This policy change resulted in 3 to 4 percent of the increase,”
Colorado law requires that all students have coverage for
pregnancy and delivery, mental and nervous conditions, alcohol and
substance abuse, and screening for mammograms and prostate cancer,
said Raydean Canfield, an insurance administrator at CSU.
Some international students feel that a plan with such
widespread coverage is not necessary.
“Our plan is not to come (to the United States) and have
babies,” Piratla said.
However, Blom said that it is important to be insured for such
Hartshorn Health Service has created a plan to assist
international students with health insurance’s financial burden.
The installment plan in place allows students to pay their
insurance cost in three installments, similar to the tuition
“It was a request by the Office of International Programs and it
was a way for us to reach out to international students,” Blom
Blom said the University of Colorado-Boulder and Metropolitan
State College of Denver experienced similar student insurance
“Insurance costs are still going up,” Blom said. “My best guess
is that in the future we will not see increases like this and
hopefully they will be in the single digits.”
Annual Student Health Insurance Costs