Higher UC SHIP Premiums = More Benefits

Contributor
Graduate Division

Student health insurance premiums will increase $565, or 20.4 percent, next year for registered students at UCSF, one of the campuses that have elected to stay with the UC Student Health Insurance Plan (SHIP). 

The premium increase may sound steep, but it will help fund a range of benefit increases, while helping to stabilize UC SHIP.  Moreover, the increase is in keeping with the rise in the cost of medical care, according to Adele Anfinson, director of Student Health and Counseling (SHC).    

Furthermore, after the discovery of the projected $57.4 million deficit by UC SHIP, students feared that they would be unfairly held responsible.  Good news: The UC Office of the President (UCOP) will assume all responsibility for the debt. “None of that will burden students next year or [thereafter],” Anfinson emphasized during a May 16 interview.

The Council of Chancellors approved the withdrawal of 60 percent of UC SHIP member campuses on May 1, but the reduction in the number of participating campuses will not effect premiums.  “Our premiums wouldn’t have been any different if they’d stayed in,” said Anfinson, referring to the campuses that opted out.

Campuses that chose to stay with the plan decided on a “blended premium” system, which means that premiums will be based on the true cost of the plan on each individual campus.

New benefits, more student input

In the new arrangement, annual pharmacy and lifetime caps have been removed, as have caps on essential health care benefits such as physical therapy. 

Many students argued passionately for their removal in previous months, and voted  for change in the UC SHIP policy, citing the financial burden such caps force onto students already suffering from chronic illnesses or in recovery from major surgeries. 

The governing structure of UC SHIP will change in the 2013-14 year, to give students more input in the decision-making process. A new body called the Executive Oversight Board will consist of a health director and student for each participating campus.  Each campus will have one vote. 

SHC is also working on securing contracts with non-network hospitals to eliminate balance billing, which are the sometimes astronomical out-of-pocket expenses students must pay if they receive care from a provider that is not explicitly covered under their insurance plan. For example, a visit to UCSF’s own San Francisco General Hospital is still not covered by UC SHIP. 

The new plan goes into effect on September 1 for graduate and medical students and September 11 for all others covered by the plan.