Health insurance is mandatory starting this fall for all full-time students

When uninsured or underinsured students become seriously ill or injured, their academic careers can be extensively impacted by substantial health care debt or disability. The vast majority of University of St. Thomas students have health insurance coverage, but those few who do not carry insurance are at a much greater risk. This will be changing for all full-time UST students this fall. Achieving affordability and increasing access to medical care are among our primary goals, and these align appropriately with the institutional strategic priorities of access, excellence and Catholic identity.

In keeping with the university’s mission and convictions, the President’s Staff and Academic and Administrative Leadership recently approved implementation of mandatory health insurance starting in fall semester 2007 for all full-time students. This step has been taken to protect the welfare of our students and establish a common level of care that will aid them during their academic career. Students who are currently covered by their own or family health insurance policies will not be required to purchase the health insurance.

In 2004, the American College Health Association conducted a review of the University of St. Thomas Student Health Service and it recommended implementing mandatory insurance for all full-time students. Presently, about 95 percent of private colleges and 25 percent of public universities or colleges nationwide require such mandatory insurance.

Therefore, starting this fall the university will be requiring all undergraduate degree-seeking students taking 12 or more credits and all graduate or professional students taking nine or more credits to demonstrate health insurance coverage. We know that presently about 90 percent of our undergraduate and 80 percent of all graduate students have coverage, so this policy change only will affect some of our students. Most graduate or professional school students take fewer than nine credits, and therefore will not be impacted; however, the full-time students in law, graduate social work, and full-time MBA programs may be affected significantly by this change. Currently, international students on an F-1 or J-1 visa, students participating in intercollegiate athletics, and seminarians already are asked to demonstrate health insurance coverage.

There will be no change in terms of access to the services provided at Student Health Services. While students will be asked to show their insurance card at the time of their visit, there will be no co-pays or other new fees. Students who are less than full time and do not have insurance still will be able to use Student Health Services and will be charged a fee-for-service.

Students who are not covered by other policies will have the option of purchasing the UST-sponsored health insurance policy. The insurance premiums for 2007-2008 have not yet been set, but are expected to be approximately $875 per year. Dependents can be added to the policy and the costs are factored into the “personal maintenance” budget calculation for financial aid purposes. We are working with our partners in Information Resources and Technologies to build a system via Murphy Online that would allow students to easily and confidentially enter their health insurance information.

We will make general announcements about these changes via the Bulletin Today, posters, and mailings to current university students, faculty and staff by the end of this spring semester. Specific instructions on how to provide insurance information will be sent directly to students before the start of the fall semester.

For more information on this universitywide process, please call the Dean of Students Office, (651) 962-6050.