Kansas University looking at new options for student insurance to comply with new federal health care regulations
Kansas University intends to increase payout caps on its student insurance plans in the coming years, as colleges and universities across the country are trying to figure out how to adjust to new health care regulations, but cautions those plans could change based on court action.
The Obama administration is telling colleges and universities that caps on student insurance coverage for the 2012-13 academic year must be at least $100,000, and then $500,000 for 2013-14 and no limits after that, the Wall Street Journal recently reported.
Students at KU aren’t required to carry health insurance, but a plan in recent years allows students to obtain insurance through the university.
KU will have a policy in place next year that will comply with the guidelines, but will reassess plans for the future based on the U.S. Supreme Court’s pending decision on the health care law. Diana Malott, assistant director at KU’s Student Health Services, has served as a university representative to groups that have helped to formulate the new plans. KU offers the insurance along through the Midwest Higher Education Compact, a group of colleges and universities from 12 states that helps keep premiums down using economies of scale.
For undergraduates, the students are responsible for paying the full premium, though premiums for graduate teaching assistants and graduate research assistants are subsidized.
Though many undergraduate students are still on their parents’ healthcare plans, at KU, about 3,500 students and dependents enrolled in the plan during the 2011-12 academic year.
In 2011-12, the plan had a $100,000 cap, but also had internal limits on pharmacy, physical therapy and outpatient psychotherapy. Premiums cost $1,081 per year.
For the upcoming academic year, the KU plan keeps the $100,000 cap, complying with the new law, but will drop the internal limits and will cover preventive care. Premiums will increase to $1,248 per year for students, or $104 per month. Though KU plans to increase its plan in future years to comply with the new law — pending the court’s decision — the costs associated with those plans aren’t yet known, Malott said.
Heather Moore, a 42-year-old non-traditional student with a pre-existing condition, said she had trouble obtaining private insurance, so she enrolled in two KU courses last year just so she could buy KU’s student insurance before she qualified for Medicare.
The plan saved her from having to enroll in the state’s high-risk pool, which she said would have cost her about $750 per month. Even with the tuition for her classes, signing up for KU’s insurance was cheaper. She said she was pleased with the coverage.
“It’s not Blue Cross Blue Shield, that’s for sure,” she said. “But if you are in reasonable physical condition, it’s not a bad plan.”
Other students, like graduate student Melissa Irwin, had more trouble with the insurance.
“I could not make head or tails of what my coverage was and wasn’t,” she said.
Malott said she always encouraged students to take the time to understand their insurance coverage, particularly the exceptions.
“There are schools that only have very, very basic plans,” Malott said. “They may only cover $10,000. This is not that.”
For those schools, the impact of the new regulations may be more widely felt.
The Wall Street Journal reported that Bethany College in Lindsborg wouldn’t be offering its 12-month plan that cost students $445 per year with $10,000 payout caps next year. University officials told the newspaper that while they wished they could keep the plan, they felt the cost of increasing the caps to $100,000 would be too high, increasing premiums to $2,000 per year.
Health beat: Insurance coverage lacking, KU 3-pointers raise nearly $4,000 for cancer, snowy sidewalks, KABC’s new outreach coordinator
Here’s a dose of health news from WellCommons, around town and elsewhere:
Insurance: What should be covered?
Our state and national health leaders are currently discussing what should be covered in the “basic health care benefit package” offered in 2014 under the Affordable Care Act.
Families USA, a nonprofit, nonpartisan national organization for health care consumers, recommends that the benefits fit consumer needs.
• 22 percent of people who purchase their own insurance are surprised to find their plan will not pay anything for care they thought was covered.
• 20 percent of individual plans do not include any coverage for prescription drugs.
• 57 percent of individual plans do not include any coverage of maternity care.
• 52 percent of individual plans do not include any coverage for outpatient mental health care.
• 37 percent of individual plans do not include any coverage for inpatient mental health care.
“Health insurance is only meaningful if it provides adequate coverage. It is essential that the definitions of guaranteed benefits and services fulfill the goal of improving and protecting American’s health.”
— Ron Pollack, Families USA executive director
Families USA says the benefit package must include an expanded list of services: ambulatory care, emergency services, prescription drugs, mental health care, maternity and newborn care, rehabilitative and habilitative services, laboratory services, preventive and wellness services, chronic disease management, and pediatric services, including oral and vision care.
• 41 million Americans get their coverage through small group plans.
• 16.7 million get their coverage through individually purchased policies.
• 46 million have no insurance.
Have you ever been surprised by your insurance plan? Has it NOT covered something you thought might be covered?
Coaches vs. Cancer
Hey, KU fans!
Coach Bill Self encourages you to support the No. 3-ranked Jayhawks by raising money for the American Cancer Society through the 3-Point Attack program.
You can make a pledge for each 3-point basket KU sinks during the season and NCAA tournament.
As of Thursday, the Jayhawks had made 112 3-point baskets, raising $3,965. (In case you were wondering, that’s 37 percent of their 299 3-point attempts.)
So far, 58 people have made pledges ranging from 15 cents to $5 per shot. And the pledges have come from across the nation, thanks to the easy online pledge forms available this year.
The American Cancer Society has received pledges from KU fans living in California, Colorado, Florida, New Mexico, Texas, New York, Pennsylvania, Missouri and, of course, Kansas.
For more information or to make a pledge, contact Michelle Kincaid, of the American Cancer Society, at 816-218-7140 or visit http://ku.3pointattack.org.
I am a big wimp when it comes to cold weather. I often opt for the treadmill and indoor activities — lifting weights, sit-ups, etc. — during the winter months.
But on Sunday afternoon, it felt warm after the last couple weeks of freezing temperatures. I was ready for some fresh air, sunshine, and a 4-mile walk around my west Lawrence neighborhood.
I put on my running shoes and bundled up.
As I started my walk, I was thinking, “This is why the city passed an ordinance on shoveling sidewalks. It’s so easy to get around.”
About five blocks later, I carefully walked over a sidewalk that hadn’t been shoveled. I didn’t fall, but it was very slippery.
The more I walked, the more sidewalks I came across that hadn’t been shoveled. I even came across a heavily traveled nature path that hadn’t been touched, and I am not sure if this is the residents’ responsibility or the city’s. Most of the sidewalk area along Bob Billings Parkway hadn’t been shoveled.
For the elderly, physically disabled, or someone with a baby stroller, it must be very difficult to navigate the snowy sidewalks.
If we are going to become a “Let’s Move” city, it’s kind of hard to move when the sidewalks aren’t taken care of.
Helping those in long-term care
Noakes will work with people who are using long-term care and their families across Kansas.
Her outreach efforts will include providing information and referral about services available, training for individuals and groups to advocate for the care needed in the most desirable and economic settings, and connecting people to others engaged in advocating for improved quality in long-term care services.
Noakes joins KABC through the grant support of AmeriCorps, the Sunflower Foundation, the National Consumer Voice for Quality Long-Term Care, and the Milbank Foundation. She will work with the Lawrence-based nonprofit through 2011.
— Know of something happening on the health beat? Send me a tip at email@example.com.