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Archive for Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Officials seek new options for health care at KU

Negotiations to offer students better coverage under way

June 28, 2005

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Kansas University students could have a new option for health insurance when they return for the fall semester.

The university is negotiating with Student Resources, the nation's largest provider of student health insurance, for a more expensive plan with better coverage than currently offered, said Nick Sterner, student body president.

"There were concerns the other plan was not covering enough stuff for a normal student," Sterner said. "The stuff (the new plan) covers is a lot better."

Carol Seager, director of Watkins Student Health Center, said she expected an agreement to be signed by Aug. 1.

Only about 1,000 KU students from the United States currently take advantage of the existing health insurance plan, which also is through Student Resources and is administered through the Kansas Board of Regents. Students throughout the state are offered the plan for $647 a year, though graduate teaching assistants at KU are offered the plan for $153 as part of their collective bargaining agreement.

Seager said students might need the plan if they're not covered through their parents' health insurance.

A separate plan, which costs $760 a year, is required of international students. It is through Student Assurance Services.

Until an agreement is signed, Seager said it was too soon to know how much the new plan would cost or exact coverage.

But Sterner, who has been involved in pushing for the new plan, said he expected it to be about $100 more than the existing plan.

For that, he said, students would get better coverage, including a maximum $250 annual deductible, compared with $500 with the existing plan. Also, he said, there would be a maximum $150,000 payout each year, compared with $100,000 currently.

"Not every student is paying for the insurance plan, just the students in it," Sterner said. "We're trying to help those students."

Seager said students still can opt for the statewide plan.

"We have felt like we needed to look for an insurance plan that has a more robust level of coverage than was being offered by the regents' plan," she said. "Our plan is to have something in effect for the next school year."

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