SIU Student Task Force Pushes New Insurance Plan

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By Fanna Haile-Selassie
By Jared Roberts

CARBONDALE -- An SIU task force says it's found a better healthcare plan for students. It comes after a year of work, because the university's current insurance doesn't fully comply with the Affordable Care Act.

The details are still under wraps because the board of trustees hasn't approved the proposal, but task force members say they're going to push hard for a yes vote.

"Students have repeatedly said they're willing to pay more for this new health plan," says Matt Ryg with SIU's Graduate and Professional Student Council.
 
He says the current self-funded insurance plan was never meant to be used as a primary plan. It has limited mental health coverage, doesn't accept several pre-existing conditions, nor does it include prescription drug coverage. That's a problem for many graduate students.
 
"A lot of us have dependents, a lot of us have kids, a lot of us are married and have spouses who could really benefit from the added range of benefits that a fully compliant plan would bring," explains Ryg.
 
In 2012, the university formed a student task force to find an insurance plan that was fully compliant with the federal Affordable Care Act. The one they selected will cost about a third more than the current $430-a-semester plan.
 
"The range of benefits that's offered through the plan that's proposed is much more economical than you might obtain through a separate plan in the ACA market," says Undergraduate Student Government President Cameron Shulak.
 
He says despite the cost increase, the proposal is still a better deal than on the marketplace since it pools together young people, who are a lower risk.
 
"We're willing to pay more for our healthcare if we get more for our dollar," explains Ryg. "The recommendation from the student task force gives us that quality health coverage that we're looking for."
 
The Student Insurance Task Force will meet with SIU President Randy Dunn this Thursday. They hope for a vote at the next board meeting on July 24th. SIU's current minimum coverage is still considered legal through the next school year.
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