Editorâ€™s note: Graduate Student Council President Seth Anthony is a columnist for the Collegian.
Starting in the fall of 2010, CSUâ€™s student health insurance program will include a prescription drug benefit up to $500, cover birth control for the first time and increase the planâ€™s deductible $250 to offset increased costs.
The overall price of insurance plans â€“â€“ running roughly $2,000 per person per year and provided through Summit America Insurance Services â€“â€“ could have increased as much as 13.5 percent due to medical cost inflation. But by dipping into the companyâ€™s reserve funds, increasing the deductible price and adjusting benefits and fees, the company was able to limit its insurance plan price increase to 0.7 percent, said Paul Mayo, senior vice president of Summit America.
More than seven months of planning went into the changes, which were finalized Monday, due to a high level of student involvement, Mayo said.
â€œThis year was a little more complex because we wanted more student involvement, â€ Mayo said.
CSUâ€™s Graduate Student Council sent out an online survey in February to graduate students to find out what they would like to see in an insurance plan.
â€œWhat we wanted to do was make things better for grad students,â€ said GSC President Seth Anthony.
Out of the 795 students who responded, 48 percent said that they were unhappy with the current plan, which many graduate students are forced to buy unless they have a comparable plan approved by the university.
Positive feedback focused on the ease of access to health care at Hartshorn Health Center but many also complained about high costs and bad personal experiences with the insurance plan, including being denied immediate coverage for pre-existing conditions.
In addition to the survey, Mayo addressed a group of students at an open forum in December to discuss a mandate that graduate students to purchase the plan and consider potential changes for the 2010-2011 academic year.
â€œThe plan has really stabilized due to the efforts of the grad student council,â€ said CSU Graduate School Vice Provost Peter Dorhout.
Courtney Croke, a biochemistry Ph.D. candidate, and Kevin Whitley, a mechanical engineering graduate student, participate on the GSC Health Insurance Committee that helped create the February survey.
They met with Mayo and CSU Health Center Director Steve Blom to convey student insurance needs, but had mixed feelings about the changes.
â€œI think that weâ€™ve tried to implement changes that people wanted,â€ Croke said.
Whitley said the university ignored the fact that 54 percent of students surveyed said they did not want to pay more for birth control coverage.
â€œThey went completely in the opposite direction of what the students wanted,â€ Whitley said.
Croke, however, said she was happy with the decision.
The next step for Summit America and the GSC is to inform current and incoming students about the plan by conducting more surveys and holding more forums like the one in December.
â€œEducation is huge,â€ Whitley said.
The GSC health care committee plans to conduct further surveys in hopes that more of the graduate student population will give feedback.
More information on the issue and results of the survey can be viewed at http://sites.google.com/a/rams.colostate.edu/gsc/home.
Staff writer Rachel Childs can be reached at email@example.com.
Amount the deductible increased
Top amount prescription drug coverage will go to
Increase in price for student health insurance program
- Birth control will be included in new plan