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June 10, 2002

Student insurance costs rise

By Eric Rangus

Reflecting an upward trend nationally in health care costs, Student Health Services announced last month that insurance rates for Emory students, their spouses and dependents will rise 6–8 percent for the 2002–03 academic year.

Accompanying those increases will be higher costs for prescription drugs, emergency services and outpatient specialists, as well as the introduction of a $100 deductible.

“While no one wants rates to go up and coverage to go down, these changes were necessary and inevitable,” said Michael Huey, executive director of Student Health Services. Huey sat on the Student Health Insurance Advisory Committee, a joint committee of faculty, staff and students charged with addressing student health insurance issues.

The new annual rates are as follows: student ($979), spouse ($2,218) and children ($995). Those numbers represent a 6.8/7.5/7.5 percent increase from the 2001–02 academic year, but are only slight jumps from 2000–01. Student insurance rates fell prior to last year.

While the increases are not insignificant, they are considerably lower than national averages. Overall health care costs went up 12 percent in 2001 and are predicted to rise 14–15 percent this year.

In addition to the rate hike, the following changes to services will be instituted.

• $15 generic/$25 brand-name co-payments for prescription drugs (previously $10 generic/$20 brand).

• $100 co-pay for emergency care, then 80 percent coverage ($50 co-pay/100 percent coverage).

• $25 co-pay and 80 percent coverage for outpatient specialists ($25 co-pay/100 percent coverage).

• $100 annual deductible at Student Health Service (no deductible).

Emory also is changing insurers; Student Assurance Services will replace Reliastar as plan provider.

The plan is a result of about four months of negotiation between the 21-member committee and insurers. Basically, Huey said, the committee worked to obtain the most reasonable price without a significant cut in service.

“We had to figure out what we were willing to give in terms of the expenses of the plan,” Huey said. “The quality is as good or better than most campuses our size.”

A total of 2,396 current students are enrolled in the health insurance plan. Spouses, dependents and recent graduates who have remained in the plan push the total number of enrollees to nearly 2,600.