University Health Services seeks feedback on SHIP plan at ASUC meeting

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At Wednesday night’s regular ASUC meeting, members from University Health Services, or UHS, asked for input to better align the Student Health Insurance Plan, or SHIP, which is currently being renegotiated.

Guy Nicolette, assistant vice chancellor of UHS, said during the meeting that UHS has put out a request for new bids from insurance companies, as the current contract is nearing expiration. UHS received about a dozen potential insurance plans and has narrowed these down to two options after conducting interviews with the providers, according to Nicolette.

Nicolette and UHS Strategic Initiatives Manager Bene Gatzert attended the meeting with one primary question for ASUC senators: Should UHS offer a lower premium in exchange for higher service rates, or should it continue coverage at about the same rate for a higher premium?

“It might be easier to handle (the premium) expense rather than the unbudgetable, unknowable emergency room services or hospitalizations,” Nicolette said during the meeting. “That’s why we’re asking. There is no right answer.”

SHIP currently costs $1,497 per semester for undergraduate students, and people covered by SHIP pay a $100 copay for emergency room services. In the event of hospitalization, SHIP would cover 90 percent of the fees.

The two remaining insurance companies that UHS is considering have both offered to increase the emergency room copay to $250 or to only cover 80 percent of hospitalization fees. This could lower premiums by as much as 4 percent, according to Nicolette.

Nicolette added that UHS does not anticipate raising copays for services at the Tang Center.

“Whether we can actually decrease them or not, that’s a different question,” Nicolette said during the meeting. “But we will definitely not increase them — no matter what insurance we choose, no matter what their structure is.”

Multiple senators asked for a more detailed breakdown of the potential insurance plans, but Nicolette said during the meeting that those numbers could not be shared as they are still in negotiation.

Senator Zach Carter said during the meeting that he didn’t know if he could speak on the types of care people may need on campus given the information they have, and many senators nodded in agreement.

Nicolette added that the renegotiation process has allowed UHS to more easily add services and to better understand utilization trends. Top and bottom surgeries, for example, are already covered by SHIP, but Nicolette said he anticipates that facial feminization surgery will be covered by the new plan as well. He also added that UHS is negotiating for better access to claims data so that students can better understand — and potentially challenge — their bills and expenses.

“We want more students using these services because we think we provide better care than outside primary care,” Nicolette said during the meeting. “We understand the university environment, the class situation, the academic load, the extra commitments much better than anybody else.”

Anjali Shrivastava is the lead student government reporter. Contact her at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @anjalii_shrivas.