UC SHIP Advisory Board postpones coverage cap decision

The UC SHIP Advisory Board met Monday to weigh options on the controversial health care coverage cap issue.

Representatives from the UC Office of the President urged the board to take a firm position on the coverage caps, but board members refrained from taking a position until student groups had a chance to present their views, according to campus board representative and Graduate Assembly President Bahar Navab.

“The consensus of the discussion on caps was that the majority of campuses were in favor of lifting the caps, but we’re going to hold off on making any decisions until all the campuses have had time for student consultation,” Navab said.

The SHIP lifetime and annual coverage caps limit the amount of lifetime health care coverage to $400,000 and the annual pharmacy coverage to $10,000 per year. Eleven students have exceeded the lifetime cap on coverage, and 150 students have surpassed the annual pharmacy cap in 2011-12 alone.

In an open forum last Tuesday night, students proposed alternate solutions to eliminating the UC SHIP deficit. A universitywide survey conducted by the UC Student Association and the UAW Local 2865, a union representing UC student workers, revealed that 71 percent of undergraduate respondents and 78 percent of graduate respondents want caps eliminated.

UC Berkeley Chancellor Robert J. Birgeneau said he is supportive of lifting the coverage caps.

According to an open letter released Monday by the UCSA and UAW Local 2865, lifting the lifetime cap would cost approximately $32.28 per student per year, and eliminating the annual prescription drug cap would cost an average of $12.63 per student per year.

Composed of student representatives, student health directors and other members of the UC community, the UC SHIP Advisory Board will make a recommendation to an executive committee as to what they think the next step for UC SHIP will be, according to UC spokesperson Brooke Converse.

After the committee reviews the suggestions, they will be sent to the Council of Chancellors, which is expected to make the final decision regarding the future of UC SHIP on May 1.

Time is an issue for this decision, too, because UC SHIP affects students’ financial aid package, according to Converse.

“They want to get it done, so financial aid can be adjusted before the start of the next academic year,” Converse said.

The UCSA, UAW Local 2865 and the university are expected to meet on March 25 to discuss the elimination of caps and opposition to fee hikes, reported Charlie Eaton, financial secretary for UAW Local 2865.

Contact Matt Trejo at [email protected].