The University has tossed around the idea of requiring all students to hold health insurance since 2005, but now the Michigan Student Assembly is trying to kickstart the process.

Clif Reeder

At its meeting last night, MSA passed a resolution asking the University to explore the merits of a mandatory base level of health insurance for all students. MSA President Mohammad Dar said he will send a letter on the topic to University administrators by the end of the week.

The University currently offers a health insurance plan to domestic students for $2,183 per year. In 1998, the same plan was offered for $621. When the premium hit $1,000 per year in 2002, the number of students enrolled in the plan dropped drastically.

Last night’s resolution said MSA believes a health insurance mandate – and thus an increase in the number of students enrolled in the University provided plan – will drive down the yearly premium of the plan. With more students paying into the program, the cost per student would decrease.

If health insurance were made mandatory, the cost of the premium would be added to the University’s estimated cost of attendance for each student.

Students could then be eligible to receive financial aid to cover the premium, but aid would not be guaranteed. This means students without outside insurance who cannot receive more financial aid could end up paying more to attend the University, he said.

In the resolution, Dar wrote that international students at the University currently pay $81 per month for a mandatory health insurance plan provided by the University – much less than domestic students pay. That might be because all international students are required to buy insurance.

When only some students are required to buy insurance, those who have may need it are more likely to buy it. That can lead to higher prices, driving healthy people, who in effect pay for sick customers, to drop their insurance. That, in turn, leads to higher prices still.

The University has already assigned the task of investigating ways of lowering the cost of health insurance for students to a committee.

But Dar said his letter would suggest a timeframe for the committee’s investigation. He said he hopes that the committee will present its results to the administration by next fall and make a recommendation about whether to pursue a health insurance mandate for all students.

Dar said the assembly expects the University’s committee to use student input during the investigation, and eventually report the results to the assembly and the student body.

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