Speaking at last night’s Michigan Student Assembly meeting, Robert Winfield, director of the University Health Service, supported the idea of requiring all University students to have basic health insurance.
MSA has asked the University to explore the specifics and feasibility of such a plan. UHS is studying the idea.
During the meeting, Winfield said about 20 percent of college students nationwide are uninsured, but that those numbers are skewed when split between public and private universities. He said 62 percent of the nation’s private colleges and universities require that students have health insurance while just three percent of public colleges and universities do.
“We’re seeing a significant number of out-of-state students coming with underinsurance – grad and undergrad,” Winfield said.
The University doesn’t require students to have health insurance, but it offers an insurance plan that costs $2,183 per year. That cost has increased noticeably in the past decade. In 1998, it was $621.
If insurance coverage was mandated, the plan would increase the estimated cost of attendance for all students. This means health insurance could be paid for by financial aid. Students who already have health care insurance wouldn’t have to pay any additional costs.
Winfield acknowledged that some University students who qualify for financial aid might not be able to afford health insurance under the mandate.
Several MSA representatives voiced concern about additional tuition costs.
“The biggest concern is that we don’t want to price anyone at the University out of coming here because of this,” MSA Vice President Arvind Sohoni said. “I think if we can alleviate that concern with the plan then it’s OK, but if that is a concern we just need to look at it more closely.”
Kinesiology sophomore T.J. Winfrey, a new representative, is concerned with the possible additional costs.
“I really think that the needy students should be looked out for,” he said. “If they’re already struggling to get to college in the first place then adding another mandatory amount of money so I think we really need to look out for those students.”