NIU students to carry Blue Cross policy

By Ellen Skelly

Student health insurance is available to any fee-paying student and dependents, and operates separately from the University Health Service.

Full-time students are automatically covered under Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois when they pay their student bills. NIU mandates that full-time students carry insurance. Students with other insurance coverage are eligible to receive refunds and cancel their Blue Cross coverage.

The rising number of refunds in the past few years has resulted in higher costs for students who keep the Blue Cross coverage, said Dana Mills, associate director of health services. Mills added that those students who keep the insurance commonly are termed “high risk,” which also contributes to higher insurance costs.

In fiscal year 1988, there were 7,580 refunds and 32,061 students and dependants with NIU insurance. The same year, the insurance cost $41.86 per semester. In FY89, it is estimated 28,831 students and dependants kept their insurance while 9,422 collected refunds. Insurance costs were $65.52 per semester. FY90 costs for student insurance is $78.54 per semester.

Mills said that it has become “hard to administer” refunds as the number of students asking for refunds increases. Mills said next semesters refunds will be credited on student bills instead of being mailed.

All money collected from students for insurance goes to Blue Cross, except for 63 cents per student that goes to the Health Service.

NIU students who go to Kishwaukee Community Hospital or another local hospital when the same service is available at Health Service will not be covered for that visit, Mills said.

Services the Health Center charges for also are not covered under the insurance plan, said Regina Crosby, manager of the student health plan. But Crosby noted that Doctor-ordered tests and almost all treatments are free to fee paying students at the Health Center. When a service is recommended by the Health Service to be given outside of the Health Center, the Health Service gives the student a $25 referral certificate and a list of doctors that it can be used at to defray costs of the test, Crosby said.

Any student who has payed student fees and is enrolled with more than one credit hour can recieve treatment at the Health Center.

Blue Cross has been the NIU insurance underwriter for 14 of the past 15 years, Mills said. He said that up to 40 insurance companies every two years make bids for NIU’s insurance.