Demand for college-provided health insurance growing

By Christopher Blake
April 17, 2008

brittany lavin/features editor

One in five college students ages 18 to 23 did not have health insurance in 2006, despite the fact that many colleges now offer insurance plans for students. This is according to a recent report by the U.S. Government Accountability office.

Cabrini College is not part of this trend, however. “Cabrini College requires all full-time students to have health insurance. If they don’t have access to parental coverage or dependent coverage Cabrini offers a student health insurance plan,” college nurse Susan Fitzgerald said.

The Cabrini plan is a managed care plan in which the college health services office is the primary care provider for subscribers, a statement from health services on said.

All full-time students are required to verify that they have medical insurance through Cabrini or a separate carrier before they are admitted to classes.

If proof of insurance is not found, then Cabrini will automatically bill the student an annual premium of $1,600 for a 12 month or one year plan.

“Most of our students are covered under their parents’ plans through work,” Fitzgerald said.

The report also found over half of American colleges offered some form of student health insurance in the last academic year and almost 30 percent required students to have insurance.

The problem is the demand for college-provided health insurance is growing, as students find their parents’ employer-sponsored benefits growing smaller and smaller each year.

“I had expected to see more Cabrini students enroll in the student health plan for those reasons but our number of enrolled has stayed pretty steady over the past 10 years,” Fitzgerald said.

At Cabrini an average of 80 students per year enroll in the insurance plan. Students coming from low-income families, attending college part-time or members of minority groups are more likely to be uninsured, the report said.

Cabrini’s cost of tuition and average parent incomes are higher than those at other colleges and universities. Overall, about 1.7 million students did not have insurance, the report said.

“The socio-economics of Cabrini students plays a huge part in the low amount of students on the health plan but at the same time we are fortunate to be at Cabrini because we recognize the value of personal health insurance,” Fitzgerald said.

In 2006, two-thirds of students were covered by employer-sponsored plans, typically through a parent.

Sophomore Pat Trencansky is insured by Capital District Physicians Healthcare Network. His mother’s job at Lockheed Martin as a computer engineer provides Pat and his family insurance coverage.

“I will be on my parent’s insurance plan until I am through college and able to obtain my own plan through work,” Trencansky said.

One Cabrini student suffered significant injuries from a car accident several years ago. Like many students across the country he did not have easily accessible insurance coverage.

“Any serious health problem could end a student’s college career because the financial obligations would be overwhelming,” Fitzgerald said.

The difference between him and a student without heath insurance was that he had the Cabrini health plan. Not only did he walk again but he returned to the classroom.

Christopher Blake

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