UC Chancellors Approve UC SHIP Recommendations


Chancellors of the 10 University of California campuses have agreed unanimously with all of an advisory committee’s recommendations regarding the UC Student Health Insurance Program (UC SHIP).

Recommendations of the 31-member UC SHIP Advisory Board included elimination of the lifetime maximum and other caps on essential health benefits.

“These added benefits will provide students with enhanced access to care and less financial risk,” said Lori Taylor, the University of California system’s newly named director of self-funded health plans.

“The University of California remains committed to providing quality health care insurance to its students, offering strong benefits at an affordable price in a plan that is sustainable now and in the future.”

At a regularly scheduled meeting in Oakland on Wednesday, UC chancellors approved an advisory board recommendation that premiums be excluded as a source for recouping an accrued deficit projected at $57 million. Options are under review at the UC Office of the President.

The chancellors also confirmed that some campuses will remain with UC SHIP, and that some will pursue other options. UCSF will remain with UC SHIP.

Students on campuses leaving UC SHIP will have comparable insurance through another insurer, as mandated by the Regents. Taylor said that, with 58,000 students staying in the program, UC SHIP will be self-supporting, with appropriately priced premiums. Coverage for all students will conform to the Affordable Care Act, including provisions dealing with caps.

The advisory group included students and student health directors from UC campuses and UC Hastings College of the Law; they received suggestions from student groups and other stakeholders.

Campuses that chose to stay with UC SHIP decided that premiums should be based on the true cost of the plan on their campus rather than subsidizing other locations or being subsidized by them.

Here is a summary of campus decisions on whether to participate in UC SHIP:

  • Berkeley: Leave UC SHIP medical, dental and vision.
  • Davis: Leave UC SHIP medical, stay in UC SHIP dental and vision.
  • Hastings: Stay in UC SHIP.
  • Irvine: Graduate students stay in UC SHIP; undergraduates leave medical plan, but keep dental and vision.
  • Los Angeles: Stay in UC SHIP.
  • Merced: Stay in UC SHIP.
  • Riverside: Leave UC SHIP medical; graduate students keep UC SHIP dental and vision.
  • San Diego: Stay in UC SHIP, voluntary vision for undergraduates.
  • San Francisco: Stay in UC SHIP.
  • Santa Barbara: Leave UC SHIP medical; keep UC SHIP dental and vision.
  • Santa Cruz: Stay in UC SHIP, voluntary dental and vision.

UC SHIP’s medical coverage, created in 2010, is self-funded, supported solely by the premiums paid by students. For fall 2012, approximately 139,000 students were enrolled.

Graduate students on six campuses took part in the pilot program the first year. The 10 UC campuses and UC Hastings College of the Law have been participants for the last two years.

UC SHIP was created with extensive input from students. During the benefit design phase, students emphasized the importance of an affordable premium and low co-pays.

Prior to the Board of Regents’ requirement that all UC students have adequate health insurance and the creation of UC’s student health insurance plan, many UC students had no access to health insurance.

In related news, The State Assembly passed legislation authored by Dr. Richard Pan (D-Sacramento) last week to give students the same protections that other Californians receive under the Affordable Care Act.  Specifically, AB 314 would ban caps on prescription and lifetime coverage so that students are not faced with high out-of-pocket health care costs.

“The very students who fought for the Affordable Care Act deserve to benefit from the historic reforms they helped create,” Dr. Pan said. “As a former educator at UC Davis, I have seen rising tuition and other barriers stand in the way of an affordable education.  No student should have to take on the added risk of going bankrupt because of a catastrophic illness or accident.”

The bill now heads to the Senate.