ASUC talks student health insurance plan, Sproul Reformation Project

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According to University Health Services, or UHS, spokesperson Tami Cate, UHS is thinking about increasing the deductible, or price students pay for outside health care, from $300 to $500. Cate indicated that UHS will be communicating with both the Student Health Advisory Committee and the Disabled Students' Program about the potential change.

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At the ASUC’s general meeting Wednesday, University Health Services, or UHS, officials discussed changes to the student health insurance plan.

Better known as SHIP, the main change the officials are recommending this year is to the deductible, which is the amount students pay upon seeking care outside of UHS, according to UHS spokesperson Tami Cate. They are considering increasing the price from $300 to $500, which would allow UHS to lower the premium by about 2.5%.

“How are you going to consult with students, and how will student voices be incorporated in how you choose between these scenarios?” inquired ASUC Senator Sarah Bancroft during the meeting.

In response, Cate said UHS is presenting this change before the Student Health Advisory Committee, which is composed of 30 students, and they will also be meeting with the Disabled Students’ Program to discuss how it would affect students with disabilities.

According to Cate, there are currently about 20,000 students on SHIP, but insurance enrollment has been declining over the past few years with an 8% decline in fall 2019, 13% in spring 2020 and 10% during the 2020-21 school year, as of press time.

During the early days of the pandemic, Cate noted that fewer students were using SHIP as many did not have access to care at the Tang Center. However, in a few cases, they saw higher medical costs, with one claim totaling more than $3 million.

Additionally, Cate said UHS is piloting a program to assist marginalized communities who might be disproportionately affected by specific health conditions. The program would require no copay, co-insurance or deductible for those who have asthma, hypertension and diabetes.

“One of our strategic goals at the University Health Services is to really look at our access to care, our benefits, service, everything, through a sort of health equity lens,” Cate said during the meeting.

During executive officer reports, Telian Espanta, director of Student Union Affairs, updated the Senate on the Sproul reformation project, which aims to create a new process for assigning spaces and times for student groups to put up flyers on Sproul Plaza.

Espanta noted that Sprouling — tabling and passing out flyers on Upper Sproul — is a very important way for student groups to advertise and get new members, and securing a space on Upper Sproul can be very competitive.

“Over the years this has gotten worse with members recounting waking up as early as 2 or 3 a.m. to reserve spots on Sproul, all of which is clearly a concern for the health and safety of the students first and foremost,” Espanta said during the meeting.

The Sproul Reformation Project seeks to use a randomized reservation process to decide which groups get a space on Upper Sproul, and when.

Mela Seyoum is a student government reporter. Contact her at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @melaseyoum.