UAF Discontinues Health Insurance for Undergrads

Michael Romanovsky / Sun Star

On Monday, Aug. 10, the UAF Student Advancement office sent an email to all returning students detailing a university health insurance policy change. The email stated that students are no longer required to be registered with health insurance in order to attend UAF. However, the email also entailed that UAF was no longer offering any health insurance plan to undergraduate students.

This does not effect the Graduate Student job benefits, nor does it effect the health insurance program offered to foreign exchange students. This is not to be confused with the Health Center fee that is mandatory for all students to pay to use the Health Center’s affordable services.

A lot of third- and fourth-year students were concerned about how this will influence their lives and why these changes were made. Upcoming freshmen and sophomores are less concerned. “I didn’t even know we had a health insurance plan,” student Garret Monroe said.

Last year almost all undergraduate students were either on their parent’s health insurance plan, using a government-owned healthcare plan or a privately owned program.

“With the Affordable Care Act in 2010 students could stay on their parent’s insurance until age 26,” Dr. BJ Aldrich, the Director of the UAF Student and Counseling Center said.  “So we saw a lot of people fall off the policy then… We used to have upwards of about a thousand people on the policy, and it went down to 200.” Before 2010, when the Affordable Care Act was implemented, the health insurance company UnitedHealthcare, which provided for UAF’s insurance program, thrived.

The cost of UnitedHealthcare’s insurance plan in 2014 was $2,056 annually and offered a $400 deductible. If healthcare costs exceeded $2,500, another $5,000 would be added to the deductible. It did, however, cover all medical fees except dental and eye care.  If the insurance would have been available this year, the likelihood of raising the annual fee to at least $500 would have been considered

UnitedHealthcare requested that UAF make holding their health insurance policy a requirement for attendance unless a student showed the Office of Bursar he or she was already insured. This would have been problematic for UAF’s Office of the Bursar because they are not equipped to deal with the students who wouldn’t be interested in using the UAF insurance plan.

UA decided to disregard UnitedHealthcare’s ultimatum and cut the undergraduate health program entirely. “There wasn’t an appetite for the hard waiver, when we could give students good options with Medicaid and with,” said Dr. Aldrich.

Students who have questions regarding health insurance opportunities may visit the health center for more information.

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