Students see 18 percent price increase for health insurance

The price of TCU health insurance increased 18 percent since last school year and could affect students who are required to elect the plan.

Undergraduate students enrolled in nine or more hours must be insured by the university’s Aetna health insurance plan or a private plan.

Brown-Lupton Health Center Business Manager Marilyn Hallam said she blames inflation and medical cost for the increase in insurance prices.

Sophomore mechanical engineering major Mathew Antony is an international student from Dubai. It makes more sense for him to have student health insurance than an international plan, he said.

“Everything tends to increase every year, so it’s just part of the natural order of things,” Antony said.

Antony said his parents felt health insurance was a necessity.
Brown-Lupton Health Center Director Jane Torgerson said she thought the majority of students were under their parents’ plan.

“We kept the premium stable for years and years when it should have been sneaking up,” Torgerson said.

Hallam said about 19 percent of students elected the university health insurance plan this semester. Around ten years ago, the university did not have a built-in inflation factor unlike other companies, Hallam said.

Every time the price increases, students have slightly more coverage.

Torgerson said mental health coverage has increased to $2,000 per year.

“[The mental health coverage] may not sound like a lot, but it’s more than it was,” Torgerson said.

The university Board of Trustees decided the requirements for student health insurance in 1989, Hallam said.

Students are automatically enrolled in the university’s insurance plan if they do not give their outside providers’ information online, Hallam said.

According to the university’s Health Center website, international students are required to elect the university’s health insurance even if they are covered by another plan. 

Antony said he felt the price for student health insurance was fair, considering the sense of security he and his family had with the coverage.

Sophomore business major Yatin Agarwal is from India and said that expenses could pile up quickly as an international student.

He  thinks the plan is overpriced, he said.

“I might as well not pay the insurance,” Agarwal said.

He said that if he got sick he would just go to the doctor and pay the fee.

While the price may seem steep to some students and families, the plan has benefits that other companies may not.

The university’s major medical plan covers injuries and illnesses on and off campus.

The maximum benefit is $500,000 per illness or injury for the university’s plan.

The maximum benefit for covered prescription drugs is $2,000 for the university’s plan.

Supplies, including crutches, slings and bandages, are free.

The plan lets students choose any doctor they prefer, but students would receive benefits from preferred Aetna providers.

Hallam said each Health Center provider could see 80 clients per day on a busy day.

That does not include the nurse time students could receive, like vaccines and paperwork, she said.

The Health Center pharmacy has about 125 pick-ups a day, Torgerson said.

The university’s plan also works anywhere in the United States and while traveling or studying abroad, Hallam said in an email.

“Divide the annual cost by the number of days in the year, and you will find [university health insurance] costs $4.25 per day, which is less than a premium Starbucks coffee,” Hallam said.