By Justin Schellenberg, September 26 2018 —
As part of an effort to increase student access to the Health and Dental Plan, the Students’ Union has implemented a new payment system for student insurance.
The new plan, referred to as “the rolling 12 payment format,” will allow students to enroll in the Health and Dental Plan any month of the year, rather than only at the beginning of the fall or winter semesters.
“It makes things a lot simpler,” SU vice-president operations and finance Kevin Dang said. “It really helps students that have classes in the summer.”
In addition to making the plan available for spring and summer students, the new format implements a one-time payment of $193, rather than splitting the cost between the semesters.
Dang said the new format is also intended to help with continuing issues regarding the Health and Dental Plan’s financial sustainability.
Over the last two years, due to higher than expected demand for services, the SU has paid more than $36,000 in overage fees to the plan’s provider, Gallivan and Associates. This money has come out of an SU reserve fund, consisting of unused Health and Dental Plan student fees saved up from previous years.
“We’ve been thankful over the past few years — we’ve had a good reserve,” Dang said. “We save it for cases like this where there is high demand.”
Dang said that adding more students to the plan, should make available more money in the reserve fund.
Despite the possible increase in available funds, Dang said the Health and Dental Plan reserve fund is not a sustainable option for paying overages and that other solutions to the problem will need to be found.
Despite 2017–18 SU vice-president operations and finance Ryan Wallace stating in his final trimester report last year that a new Health and Dental Plan fee would be assessed, Dang said no fee changes are currently in the works.
“I don’t have any plans to do anything like that. It’s not a dire situation. We’re still doing okay,” Dang said. “It’s not like the plan is going to disappear or anything like that.”
If a fee increase was to be implemented, it would first have to pass through a student referendum.
First-year kinesiology student Amber Chan said that she would be willing to vote for an increase in fees, as she believes she requires many of the plan’s offerings.
“I don’t have healthcare after I turn 18, so I’d prefer to have the benefits,” Chan said.
First-year political science student Scott Moore said he would not vote for an increase in fees because he thinks the existing costs are already too high.
“Students are paying enough money already with tuitions, with fees related to transit,” Moore said. “If you increase [the Health and Dental Plan] price it’s just another burden on students.”
Though the SU may not be planning to change Health and Dental Plan fees at this time, Dang did not rule out the possibility of future increases.
“It’s part of my annual plan to work with our team [and] our staff to try and find better solutions and explore if we need to do a change to the fee,” Dang said. “We’re assessing the plan and making sure that it will be sustainable for years to come.”