UC Student Association calls on Yudof to stop UC SHIP premium increases

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After it was revealed that UC SHIP is projecting a multimillion-dollar deficit, UC student leaders called for UC President Mark Yudof to halt potential increases in health care premiums in an open letter released Wednesday.

Leaders from the University of California Student Association and the UAW Local 2865 — a union representing graduate student instructors — decried plans to raise premiums, claiming such a move could result in lower-quality care for UC students.

Student government presidents from each of the UC campuses are invited to discuss the letter and the future of UC SHIP with Yudof on Monday.

“We wanted to express very, very clearly that raising costs on students is actually not an option,” said ASUC President Connor Landgraf. “We’ll see how it goes.”

Due to financial miscalculations by the accounting firm responsible for setting premiums for the plan, the program has a projected deficit of $57 million, according to a report released by Alliant Insurance Services. To offset this, the UC Office of the President is considering raising student premiums by an average of 25 percent for the 2013-14 plan year, according to Graduate Assembly President Bahar Navab.

“This would be the largest tuition and fee increase at UC of any kind in two years,” wrote UC Student Association President Raquel Morales and UAW 2865 President Erin Conley in their letter to Yudof. “This fee increase would shake our confidence in UC by making us pay even more for executive mismanagement.”

The letter also suggests that raising premiums could lead to a problem of adverse selection.

“When fees are increased, students who are healthy are going to opt out,” said ASUC External Affairs Vice President Shahryar Abbasi. “When the ones subsidizing the other patients aren’t going to be there anymore, cost will escalate further, and the program will not be able to run itself.”

Signatories of the UAW 2865 petition also called upon UC SHIP to meet all Affordable Care Act standards in 2013, which would remove caps on coverage.

According to the letter, the university should subsidize the costs of outstanding health care cases by dipping into the “$900 million in profits” made by UC medical centers last year.

“Here at UC, we have a large and immensely profitable medical system, but those branches of UC will never be asked to contribute financially to solve this problem,” said Caroline McKusick, head steward of UAW Local 2865.

Contact Virgie Hoban at [email protected].