NIU health insurance costs set to rise to $1K

By Keith Hernandez

The Affordable Care Act will again be responsible for a possible NIU student health insurance fee increase, which the Board of Trustees will vote on at its March 12 meeting.

The Board of Trustees Finance, Facilities and Operations Committee approved a recommendation to increase student health insurance from $744 per semester to $1,052 on Thursday. The increase would be NIU’s second health insurance fee increase due to the Affordable Care Act since Fiscal Year 2015’s raise of $214 per semester.

Health insurance providers NIU reached out to dramatically increased their bids for the second year in a row to comply with the act’s requirements, said Eric Weldy, vice president of Student Affairs and Enrollment Management.

Weldy said he is working on negotiating a lower cost with vendor Academic HealthPlans for Fiscal Year 2016, but the health insurance fee “is not going to go any higher.” Weldy was not immediately available to comment further on the requirements of the act.

Students taking nine or more credit hours who are already insured will still be able to opt out of the NIU plan; however, those who cannot find outside coverage will have to pay the higher cost.

Nicolas Rancher, a freshman electrical engineering major who has NIU’s insurance, said more students will try to find cheaper insurance elsewhere or get on their parents’ plans, but he is OK with the increase.

“As long as it takes care of me then I’m fine,” Rancher said. “My health is more important. I’d rather be healthy than in a hospital worrying about it.”

Paul Hagari, a senior political science major who has NIU’s insurance, said he doesn’t like the increase, but there is little that can be done to prevent it.

“If there’s nothing [the Board of Trustees] can do about it then there’s nothing they can do about it,” Hagari said.