Mandatory student health plan: a blessing or a curse?

While paying student fees, you may have noticed a charge for over $300 for the student dental plan and the student health plan.  The dental plan is optional, but the health plan is mandatory without proof of other medical insurance. The cost for the plans are reimbursed when students opt out online. It sounds simple, but some students feel the opting out process is so complex it’s not worth it.

Jerry-Faye Flatt, a second-year student, feels the system and the deadline are too complicated. “I couldn’t even find how to opt out of the healthcare,” said Flatt.

“I missed the deadline last year because it was so close to the beginning of the year.”

(Photo: Caitlin Dutt)

The opting out process must be completed by Oct. 13 for the charge of the plans to be credited to your account.

Flatt also thinks the required fields for opting out are too personal. The page asks for your name, student ID number, phone number and email. You’re then required to provide your insurance provider’s name, policy number and photographic evidence of your coverage.

“The questions that they ask you are kind of ridiculous, asking you to prove that you have health coverage,” said Flatt. “[It should] be your decision anyway.” 

“A lot of people in the real world don’t have health coverage,” she added.

Matt Leblanc, St. Thomas University Students’ Union vice-president administration says that’s why health coverage is required.

“We want to make sure that if anything were to happen, to any of our students, that they will at least have some coverage,” said LeBlanc.

“It’s better to be safe … Imagine having that added stress to your already hectic school life.”

The plan covers students for prescriptions and any medical expenses that provincial health care doesn’t cover. This explains why students must opt out of the plan, rather than opt in.

“The best way is to opt out because, if it was an opt in, people would just not opt in and then they wouldn’t have healthcare,” said LeBlanc.

(Photo: Caitlin Dutt/AQ)

Some students decide to keep the plan and reap the benefits.

Shannon Blackmore, a third-year student, uses the plan as a second form of healthcare, and says the cost is worth it.

“When I have Blue Cross, I’ll go and get prescriptions … and I’ll have to pay five or 10 dollars to get them, but now I don’t have to pay anything with STU healthcare.”

Although Blackmore uses the plan in her favour, she too finds the opt out system complicated.

“That’s kind of why I pushed it off in first year … I think I missed the deadline … I was super confused by how the page is laid out and how the process goes, so I just didn’t opt out of it,” Blackmore said.

LeBlanc said every student is notified of the deadline when paying fees and it is sometimes announced through STU social media pages.

“We’ll sometimes spread it on our social media but if everyone needs to pay fees … Everyone’s told at least once,” he said.

LeBlanc said there have been no complaints from students about the plan or the system for opting out and there are no plans to change it in the future. 

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