DePaul to discontinue student insurance plans

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Many students who receive healthcare through DePaul will have to test the open market in the coming months as the university announced last week that it would not continue to provide a student healthcare plan once the contract with its current provider expires at the end of August.

The university has provided a healthcare option for students for more than 30 years, most recently with insurance provider Aetna. More than 500 students had a plan during the 2013-14 year, according to the last available dataset.

In an email blast to faculty and staff, Vice President Gene Zdziarski said that premiums have skyrocketed as a result of the implementation of the Affordable Care Act and that it was determined that students could get more competitive rates on the insurance exchanges created by the law.

“Each year in August, we have sent an email communication to all students enrolled in the Aetna plan regarding the plan terms and rates for the upcoming plan year (which begins September 1),” Zdziarski said. “This year, we will send a communication to the same students that instead provides information about the Healthcare Marketplace, as well as contact information for staff members who can assist students with signing up.”

According to Dean of Students Ashely Knight, “typically, graduate students, law school students, and international students have been the primary users of the student health insurance plan. Beginning in Fall 2015, international students will be covered by a mandatory insurance plan offered by ISO Medical and Accident Insurance Company.”

While that takes care of international students, to address the needs of the other students affected, the university is establishing a relationship with Near North Health Services, a community-based provider, to help students navigate the marketplace.

Sign-up dates and locations will be established between August and September and also in the spring for students who qualify for special circumstances enrollment and also in November when the open exchange period commences. Zdziarski said the university has also addressed the matter with orientation groups throughout the summer.

While the spike in premiums may have encouraged the move, Knight also noted that a good amount of students are now covered under their parents’ healthcare plans until their 26th birthdays. Student can go to heathcare.gov to learn more.