State Legislation Aims to Protect Students Using UC SHIP

Contributor
Graduate Division

Students across the University of California system voiced a desire to improve their quality of health care by voting against benefit reductions and caps on health care coverage.  On May 1, the Council of Chancellors will make the final decision on these structural changes to the UC student health insurance plan (UC SHIP) for the 2013-14 year.

Faced with a projected deficit of $57.4 million by the end of the 2012-13 plan year, 

UC SHIP must undergo structural changes in the 2013-14 year to prevent the plan from falling further into debt.

Some of these changes may also become state law rather than a reversible UC decision. Ultimately, “It’s not just about coverage. We actually want [students] to get into a system of care,” said Assembly member and pediatrician Richard Pan (D-Sacramento) during a conference call April 8. 

Dr. Pan introduced AB 314 on February 12.  The legislation proposes to permanently eliminate the annual pharmacy and lifetime medical caps ($10,000 and $400,000, respectively) for UC students. 

Such limitations are already illegal under the federal Affordable Care Act (ACA), but UC and other universities across the country were able to continue inclusion of the caps because of an exemption in the ACA. 

“We want to make sure that students are afforded the same protections as other Californians and Americans,” declared Dr. Pan, when asked about his motivation for closing this loophole. He said he hopes that other states will follow.

AB 314 was heard in the Assembly Appropriations Committee on April 10 and was re-referred to the Committee on Appropriations.  Before the bill reaches the desk of Governor Jerry Brown, it will still need to be heard by the California State Assembly and State Senate.