NIU health insurance might rise

By Pam Schmidt

Although no official recommendation has been sent to the President’s Fee Study Committee, students can expect to see an increase for their health care.

Even though the Student Health Advisory Committee (SHAC) has not taken a final vote, the committee is looking at several possible proposals which include a recommendation for an increase in the student health insurance fee by as much as $20, Dana Mills, the assistant director for administration at the University Health Service, said. The current charge for student health insurance is about $40.

At the request of G-M Underwriters, Inc., the company which provides insurance services for NIU, SHAC is looking into expanding service offerings. The possibility of providing a medical service advisory program (MSA) to provide a second opinion and a participatory providing option (PPO) are the two main expansions.

Underwriters has asked the university to implement the services as soon as possible, which might be by December, Mills said. Currently, the company is losing money by servicing NIU. It has had to pay 21 percent more than what it has taken in, he said.

The loss is due, in part, to students requesting student health insurance refunds, Mills said. The insurance company has had to give back about 3,500 refunds this year.

By investing in the PPO program, students insured through the university would be able to get a discount on services. That, in turn, might result in lower bids for servicing the student health insurance program, Mills said.

The committee also is examining several scenarios for the health center budget, each of which calls for no increase in student fees, Mills said. Currently, students pay about $146 per academic year for the use of the health center.

One possible budget is based on keeping the current level of service and hours, Mills said. “The students are leaning toward this budget,” he said.

Another possibility includes extending the service hours to 8 p.m. during the weekdays. The current service closes at 4:30 p.m. “This scenerio is being discarded,” Mills said. “It is not feasible.”

Although the health center might not require an increase in fees for next year, Mills said not raising the fee would “deplete the R&R (replacement/repair) fund.” However, the long-range budget shows it will require a “significant” increase for fiscal year 1990, he said.

“We are making every effort to get by without a student fee increase this year,” Mills said.

The amount of increase for FY90 depends on the enrollment projections for next year, Mills said. The increase might be about $5 per academic year.

The committee will vote on an official proposal to be sent to the fee study committee on Tuesday.