A recent decision to stop offering student health insurance through United Healthcare may affect Wilson students in unintended ways.
On May 1, Carolyn Perkins, Vice President of Student Development and Dean of Students, issued a memorandum that Wilson College would no longer require uninsured students to obtain the college-sponsored health insurance.
Tina Freeman, Accounts Manager, said the college “did not have a choice” but to stop providing student insurance through United Healthcare. “We needed 100 students to participate in the program. We didn’t have the volume, so they didn’t carry us.”
Freedman said the business department sent all traditional students the memorandum along with fall bills. The memorandum stated that students must still provide proof of health insurance and specified that uninsured students could now buy coverage through the American College Student Association, or ACSA.
The memorandum did not state that Wilson would no longer offer student insurance through United Healthcare.
Lori Tosten, Associate Vice President of Administration and Finance, said the memorandum clearly stated the decision and its implications for students.
Debra Hargrove, Director of Human Resources, said the decision to no longer offer student insurance would not negatively impact students.
Gillian Barth ’14 said the decision “is a major inconvenience” and that she did not realize her insurance ran out until she tried to provide the college nurse with proof of insurance a few weeks ago. Barth said she received the memorandum over the summer but did not understand the implications of it.
“I don’t blame the college; I don’t expect them to hold my hand through the process,” said Barth. “But it would have been nice to get a couple more reminder emails or notifications about the decision over the summer.”
Barth said that in the past her financial aid covered the cost of insurance, but this year she will have to wait until she receives her financial aid check in October to afford other health insurance. She also admitted that she cannot afford medical treatment in the meantime.
“If I had a serious issue, I wouldn’t seek treatment unless it was life-threatening,” said Barth. “That gets very expensive.”
Within the last month, Barth paid out-of-pocket for a routine medical appointment and chose to decline a highly-recommended laboratory test because she could not afford the full cost of the procedure. Barth feels that the college did not adequately consider students who are financially independent and that the college “made an assumption that students here are covered under their parents’ plans and parents’ finances.” She also stated that the college threatened to put a hold on her account when she was unable to provide proof of insurance. The college nurse spoke to Perkins on her behalf to prevent the hold.
Ellen Mayhugh, Wilson College nurse, declined to comment about the college’s decision to stop providing coverage through United Healthcare, but said that students “could receive a reduced college rate on medical insurance” through ACSA.
Hargrove said ACSA would provide students with “better pricing and better benefits” than the plan offered through United Healthcare. Barth, however, said she preferred the plans offered through United Healthcare over the coverage offered through ACSA.
“It looked like the copays were higher, and that a lot of incidents and accidents would not be covered by the ACSA plans,” said Barth. “This is a cause for major concern. I am very active and involved in the fencing club. If I were to have an accident, I would have to cover myself.”
Barth also said that she thought she could only obtain coverage through Dec. 31 under the ACSA plan.
Hargrove said that she did not know if the ACSA plans will terminate in December, but that ACSA would “notify the student, not the college.” She also said that the ACSA plans “would not just drop students” and that ACSA would renew students’ plans or offer them other plans at the end of the year.
Hargrove also stated that decisions in the legislature “which change every day” could affect students’ ability to obtain health insurance after Dec. 31.
For more information about the college’s decision, students are asked to contact Carolyn Perkins at firstname.lastname@example.org.