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UHS Hikes Health Insurance Rates

By Alexandra N. Atiya, Crimson Staff Writer

Citing rising health care costs, the University is hiking health insurance rates next year by as much as $550.

The increase will be shared between the mandatory University Health Services (UHS) fee and the optional student health insurance plan.

According to Director of UHS David S. Rosenthal ’59, the increases will help fund the year-old student prescription medication plan, pay for recent hires of mental health clinicians and offset the general rise in health care costs.

“We will be evaluating the cost of the [student prescription] plan, but pharmacy costs and drug costs continue to rise,” Rosenthal said. “Health care costs are rising and we are trying to keep up and maintain our services.”

Melanie Green, who directs UHS finances, added that changes to the mental health program are partly responsible for the increases.

“We look at the total array of services available to students when we develop the fee,” she wrote in an e-mail. “We have, however, invested significantly in additional resources in the Mental Health department over the past year.”

The mandatory UHS fee will increase by 12 percent, from $1,020 to $1,142 per year, while the optional Blue Cross Blue Shield (BCBS) insurance plan will see an even greater hike, rising from $750 to $1,196 per year.

All students are required to pay the UHS fee, but are not required to subscribe to the BCBS plan. However, students must prove that they hold equivalent insurance.

BCBS will also no longer be an indemnity plan, but a preferred provider organization—meaning that the plan will now have a specific list of doctors that it covers. This change means that students will now have to make for $10 co-payments on visits to doctors not on the list and $50 co-payments on emergency room visits outside of UHS.

However, Rosenthal said that the emergency room co-payment could be waived in many cases.

The ceiling for co-payments is $600.

The increases will be the largest for students with families or dependents.

According to Green, the increases are “consistent with general trends” in health care costs.

To help students cope with the costs of health care, the office of the Provost and Vice President for finance Ann E. Berman say they will establish a “hardship fund.” The fund will be distributed on a case-by-case basis next year.

—Staff writer Alexandra N. Atiya can be reached at atiya@fas.havard.edu.

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