College insurance provides students with fall-back option

With the issue of health care at its peak, many Americans find themselves without health insurance. Luckily for Oswego State students, this is a hindrance they can avoid. The college mandates health insurance and makes it available to those who do not have coverage.

Jean Grant, the director of Student Health Services, offered a brief history of the program, how it came about and how it can be utilized.

"When students were entering college, they were being dropped from their parents’ health insurance which we found, as health care providers, was keeping them from utilizing the health facilities," Grant explained. "About 15 years ago, I put a group of people together, and we decided that we would have a mandatory health insurance policy for the school."

This group of health care providers decided that in order to attend Oswego State, students must be covered by some form of health insurance.

The insurance policy offers quite comprehensive coverage for the average college student. It costs $250 for the fall and spring semesters, and $179 for the summer semesters. It remains a reasonably priced option for both full-time and part-time undergraduate and graduate students.
"It’s rather tailor-made to the needs that we see in the student population," Grant said. "For instance, the insurance will cover, with a $25 deductible, all the lab work and x-rays for one situation. It will also cover up to $1500 of prescription, with a $10 deductible."

The policy is not designed for direct care on campus. Rather, it is used to cover fees at the city of Oswego’s hospital when someone is referred by Mary Walker Health Center. If the situation is considered an emergency, the health insurance will cover care at Oswego’s hospital without a referral. Students can even use it in their hometowns, at their local physician during breaks, or over the summer should they choose to purchase the insurance for the spring semester.

While the inclusive policy covers the needs for most college students, there are some instances where the insurance cannot fulfill the needs of the student.

"This is not for catastrophic illnesses. For instance, we had a gentleman a few years back who was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis," Grant said. "He tapped out on the policy, because the cost of the diagnosis alone was more than the insurance could cover. So for him, the it was not a great policy. Those are not the type of situations for which the insurance is designed, but for the average college student, it is a good policy."

And the students seem to agree. According to Grant, those who utilize the health insurance find it quite sufficient and are satisfied with the coverage. But for those who are already covered by some alternative form of health insurance, students can opt out. According to Michael Flaherty, head of Auxiliary Services, this is not a difficult task.

"If a student is already covered by their parents’ insurance, they can fill out a waiver form," Flaherty said. "We then make a copy of their insurance card, and the insurance is taken off their bill."

Waiving the insurance, despite the policy’s sufficiency, seems to be a fairly common approach taken by college students, most likely because many remain on their parent’s insurance plan.

"Each year, we have between 6,000 and 7,000 students to whom the insurance is offered," Flaherty said. "Last spring, I believe we had about 2,000 that took it, so we estimate about 4,500 or so waive it each year."

However, for the 2,000 that chose to take advantage of Oswego State’s health insurance policy, they will not be disappointed. The policy has received positive feedback and maintains a high satisfaction rate, and remains a solid fallback option for basic accident/sickness protection.