Health is something that many would argue is important, but only few people really take the time to care for themselves as much as they should. Through United Health Care Student Resources, Barry’s new insurance policy has extended to provide services to all Barry students who may or may not have had prior access to health care insurance in Florida.
Originally, Barry’s health insurance was required for resident and international students or those who were in the following programs: podiatry, occupational therapy, nursing, physician assistant, or any program that requires hospital rotation. This semester, the insurance policy was extended to commuter students as well.
The policy change was decided by the Executive Community of the Administration (ECA) and now requires all full-time undergraduate students with at least nine credits and graduate students taking at least four credits to have full health insurance coverage in Florida, if not through a private insurance then through Barry’s. All students were offered the chance to waive the health insurance fee by proving that they have a personal insurance plan that provides coverage for them to go to a doctor’s office, emergency room, specialists, access to prescription medications, and mental health coverage.
Out of the 1,977 submitted waivers, many were rejected because of confusion caused by not carefully reading the questions. Some students selected “yes” when asked whether their insurance was from a state other than Florida, when in fact the selected answer should have been “no” for those with Florida health insurance. Even then, Barry’s Student Health Services staff reviewed each denied waiver to reverse the denial for those who qualified for the waiver.
Another factor for the high denial rate is the listing of Kaiser Permanente Insurance company as their personal insurance provider who unfortunately, is not licensed to do business in Florida. Students who did not get a chance to submit a waiver before the fall semester deadline on Sept. 28, weren’t aware of the opportunity, a result of not checking their email.
Barry’s health insurance falls under the group plan category which makes the rate as low as $159 a month. Students are billed up front and must pay the full cost for one semester (Aug-Dec), the five months totaling $796. The average cost of an individual health insurance plan is $500-$700 a month.
“This is a huge cost saving,” said Eileen Egan-Hineline, director of Student Health Services.
Barry’s gold level healthcare provides students with basic access to health care services and a $600 deductible (the amount students must pay before insurance can pay for anything). The deductible does not apply to labs, urgent care, or wellness visits such as annual physicals and vaccinations. Vaccinations and prescriptions (excluding asthma inhalers which require a $10-$30 copay) are fully covered by the school’s insurance.
The difference between having insurance or not is needing to pay $3,000-$10,000 for an emergency room hospital bill without insurance versus paying $300-$700 with insurance.
“We’re in a generation that will take care of their car rather than themselves…something’s wrong….if you’re not upset about car insurance, why be upset about health insurance? You’re investing in yourself,” said Egan-Hineline.
“If you stay on campus, it’s wise to have the school’s insurance in case of an emergency….it’s not the best….it only covers the bare minimum,” said Jeanelle Jacobs, a senior majoring in English, who had to pay $600 out of pocket for her glasses and eye exams.
Next semester, students will get another chance to submit the waiver by Feb. 14, or within 30 days after classes begin on January 14. Those who have difficulty getting personal insurance waivers can email or visit the Student Health Services office in Landon 104. The student health insurance is not meant to be seen as financial punishment but simply as a way to remove health related barriers in the way of academic success.
“We don’t want anyone to pay for something they don’t need,” said Egan-Eineline.