UW-Milwaukee has partnered with Student Assurance Services, Inc. (SAS) to provide a new health care plan to students.
The new health care plan will provide students with more options than they have previously seen. Because the health care climate is in a time of major reform, UWM and SAS are offering a wider range of health care plans that can be tailored to almost any budget and lifestyle.
Domestic and international undergrads and special students taking five or more credits as well as all grad students will be eligible to enroll in the university health care plan. Insurance seekers can select a range of plans, from a minimal ‘Catastrophic Plan’ to platinum coverage. The Catastrophic Plan will protect the insured from massive medical debt – a “worst case scenario” plan. Platinum coverage covers up to about 90% of all medical costs. Other health care plans offered fall anywhere in between the two extremes.
Students considering purchasing health insurance through UWM should take into account:
- Whether the plan will cover care beyond emergency services
- Whether the plan has doctors and surgeons in the network
- The annual cost, deductibles, out-of-pocket costs, and premiums
A network of medical professionals, in terms of health care insurance, is the group of health care providers that agree to a deal with insurance providers. A network is important to the insured because going to medical professionals in the network will greatly reduce the out-of-pocket cost. With the UWM insurance plans, 80% of the costs of most medical needs are covered by insurance when used in-network. Preventative care costs, like immunizations, are 100% covered. Out-of-network use, however, only covers 60% cost of most medical needs.
It is important for insurance seekers to know that networks are divided by region. A network may, for example, be different between one’s permanent address and their school address. Having a distant permanent address may result in the loss of in-network coverage from insurance providers, which will increase out-of-pocket costs.
Deductibles are another focus in the new insurance plans. UWM has tried over the years to keep deductible costs low.The UWM health care officials continue to strive for low deductible costs even in the vastly changing health care market. Dr. Julie Bonner, director of the Norris Health Center, notes that this is one of UWM’s main goals in achieving affordable health care.
“What really makes a huge difference in plans is the size of the deductible,” Bonner said.
In-network deductibles reach up to $300, and out-of-network deductibles reach up to $500. Bonner says these numbers are important to consider when deciding how much medical costs one might incur over the semester or year.
“With all the financial pressures, some students choose not to have health care,” she said. “I think it’s very important that everybody has health care, and having some kind of health care is better than not having any. What I think is important for students now is that they have a range of choices.”
Enrollment for a 2013-2014 plan has passed, but students can still enroll if they fulfill a qualifying event, such as being involuntarily dropped from another health care plan. Enrollment for a plan beginning in Fall 2014 began on October 1, 2013 and ends on March 31,2014. Students are responsible for renewing their plan for each semester unless they choose the annual plan.
“Students should find a plan that works for their budget and health care needs,” Bonner said. “UWM is unique to have a pharmacy in the health center. They can provide very reasonably priced medications. Being sick can directly impact how students perform in school, so we want to keep them healthy so they can do the things they need to do.”
Dr. Bonner adds, “About 20 percent of students don’t have health insurance, and we always want them to know that we are the go-to place for their preventative needs, their injury needs and their mental health needs.”
Students can apply by mail:
Student Assurance Services, Inc.
P.O. Box 196 Stillwater, MN 55082-0196