Nationwide Changes to Student Healthcare Coverage
Pacific Lutheran University, like all colleges and universities across the nation, faces significant challenges in helping students and their families find affordable student health care–both on campus and from local providers. With the introduction of the Affordable Care Act, the law limited us to three options.
- University-Provided Student Health Insurance
New national regulations for student health insurance require that all plans provide increasingly higher minimum coverage limits, next year and in years to come – from $10,000 this year to $100,000 next year and $500,000 the year after. As a result, while some universities will continue to offer student health insurance as they have in the past, the rates for such insurance will now be much higher. The most affordable rate we could find for PLU students was $1,600. There will be significant cost increases in subsequent years as the national law requires that policies cover additional benefits each year. We have decided that such a high cost now, and large annual
- No Student Health Insurance, No Supplemental Plan
As a result of the new regulations, some universities will simply stop providing student health insurance and will not offer a plan designed to supplement family health insurance. We have ruled out this option as it is not in the best interests of our students and the campus community. Research indicates that health complications can be a detriment to student academic success, and that access to timely and affordable health care is a key element in student persistence to graduation. And of course, the campus as a community is better protected from incidents such as communal outbreaks of infection when all members have access to and utilize health care.
- The Wellness Access Plan
PLU does not sell Student Health Insurance (nor do we require it), our response to the new health care coverage realities is to provide the Wellness Access Plan, a supplemental plan that is designed to increase health care access and affordability for all domestic undergraduates. For students who do not have health care insurance, the plan will help pay out of pocket costs. For students who do have health care insurance under a parent or guardian’s policy, an employer’s policy, or an individual policy, that plan should be kept. A student’s health care policy and the Wellness Access Plan will work together to reduce costs and provide access to needed health care services.
All domestic undergraduate PLU students will be automatically enrolled in the Wellness Access Plan at a cost of $175 per semester. The plan provides 12 months of assistance for students enrolled for fall (August 1 -January 31) and spring (January 1 – July 31) semesters.
The Wellness Access plan is not health care insurance coverage. All students should carry health care insurance. However, neither PLU nor the Wellness Access Plan require that students carry such insurance.
The Health Center will work with students to maximize health care access and the financial benefits of the Wellness Access Plan, both for care on campus and for referrals to off-campus services.
With Health Insurance:
The cost of many deductibles, out-of-pocket expenses and some preventative services that are not covered by primary insurance can be paid for with Wellness Access Plan dollars.
Without Health Insurance:
The Wellness Access Plan can help pay for many costs associated with preventative care, sickness and accident care that require off-campus providers.
Cost-Free On-Campus Services for All Domestic Undergraduates:
Cost-free student health care services offered on campus will be expanded. All routine office visits to the PLU Health Center and Counseling Center have been free and continue to be free to all PLU students. New no-cost services for all undergraduates include additional preventative services (e.g. flu vaccines, physical examinations, on-campus lab tests and travel counseling). Services requiring off-campus providers will incur charges billable to the student’s insurance company and/or to the Wellness Access Plan.
Also included at no cost are expanded fitness center programs and classes. Students also have access to a personalized nutrition plan and a broad range of health education programs on campus.
Access to Local Providers and Deductible Reimbursements for Undergraduates
The Wellness Access Plan assists students with timely access to local health care providers and low or no immediate charges and will provide a financial supplement to a student’s health insurance coverage, including some dental benefits. The plan augments a student’s health insurance by either serving as secondary coverage or by providing financial resources to offset co-pays, prescription costs and/or treatment.
The plan will cover many deductible reimbursements (the amount that the insured is responsible for before the insurance “kicks in” and pays for the rest). This is a great benefit to students who have insurance plans with high deductibles that can deter them from seeking care while at PLU.
The PLU Wellness Access Plan is not defined as an insurance plan under the new federal health care regulations. It is not designed to serve as primary health care coverage, nor does it meet the national regulations for health insurance under the new law. However, like insurance, it does assist with payment for medical care and it helps promote wellness.