WMU News

Health insurance mandatory for students in 2005

Dec. 12, 2003

KALAMAZOO--All Western Michigan University students will be required to carry at least minimal health insurance, starting with the 2005-06 academic year.

The policy, approved by the WMU Board of Trustees at its Dec. 12 meeting, is intended to help protect the physical health of some 8,000 students as well as the fiscal health of the University's Sindecuse Health Center.

Diane K. Anderson, vice president for student affairs and dean of students, notes that WMU has not raised its student health fee of $51.50 per semester since 1985. Instead, she says, the University has been trying to keep pace with the increasing cost of health care by periodically increasing the fees Sindecuse charges for various services.

"As the fees for health services rise, access for students becomes a concern," Anderson says. "The Sindecuse Health Center has worked diligently to keep costs for our students well below what is charged in the broader community, but it simply doesn't have the resources to keep absorbing these costs."

Anderson says although many students arrive on campus covered under their parents' insurance plans, up to 25 percent of WMU's 30,000 students are uninsured or underinsured.

For those without health insurance, the University offers basic coverage through a program administered by the Sindecuse Health Center. Until now, the program was required for WMU's 2,100 international students and optional for domestic students.

The policy approved by trustees Dec. 12 will require all students who do not appear to be insured to either demonstrate that they have existing health insurance or purchase the plan offered through the Sindecuse Health Center. The Sindecuse plan would cost an estimated $250 per semester.

"Requiring all students to maintain at least a minimal level of health insurance will help us continue to provide high-quality services at affordable rates to thousands of students," Anderson says. "This will not only make it easier for students to pay their medical bills, but also encourage them to seek treatment when they need it and to stay in school during treatment."

Media contact: Jeanne Baron, 269 387-8400, jeanne.baron@wmich.edu

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