South Dakota State University students have a reason to celebrate.
A committee, appointed by the board of regents to look into the issue of whether the university should make health insurance mandatory for all its students, has struck down the proposed policy.
Touting the board’s decision as highly judicious, Tonya Goertz, a senior, majoring in journalism said, it made little sense for most students to buy health insurance.
While many non-traditional students have coverage from outside insurance, most of the younger students are under the purview of their parent’s health insurance plans, she said.
Dr. Janet Mullen, director of student health services said, “I think it was a good decision. Had the board gone ahead with the proposal, it’d have had a negative effect on the students.”
In March 2004, a board member had evinced an interest in the review of the health insurance policy in effect at the time. Later, a committee—comprising representatives from the state universities, faculty, board members, and insurance executives—was constituted to suggest recommendations.
The committee came up with three plans. Under the “soft waiver plan,” students wouldn’t have to buy additional insurance if they could prove they were covered at a certain level under their parents’ health insurance.
The “hard waiver plan,” required students to buy insurance regardless of whether they had other insurance. The third option allowed for the then-current policy to continue, under which students had the choice to buy or opt out of insurance.
Amanda Mattingly, vice president of the campus student association said, “The students decided against it because we thought it was a ridiculous idea.” University officials and students alike agree that the proposed change in policy would’ve imposed a huge economic burden on the students.
Marysz Rames, vice president of student affairs, said, “It could’ve caused a significant increase in the student fees.” Plus, it’d have entailed steep administrative costs, she added.
All foreign students studying on campus are, however, duty-bound to buy health insurance. “It’s considered a part of the cost of their education,” said Mullen.
International student adviser Dr. Kasiviswanathan Muthukumarappan said, “I think it’s a good idea for international, students to get health insurance.”
“I recall having a graduate student, who’d developed a sudden tooth problem and had to be admitted to a hospital. His medical bills came to about $5,000. He was without insurance and found it very difficult to come up with that kind of money.”
While health insurance can help pay for an unexpected medical emergency, reducing its cost would greatly benefit economically disadvantaged students, he added.