Possible health care plan rewrites coverage

For students losing sleep over financing costly medication and care visits, the possibility of a revised student health insurance plan might offer consolation.

The health insurance renegotiation, if approved, would be applicable to both graduate and undergraduate students, said Graduate Student Senate President Tracy Kelly.

OU’s Dean of Students Ryan Lombardi said he will be meeting with GSS on Monday, April 30 to discuss the plan and will also meet with the undergraduate student senate before finalizing details with the insurance company.

He said most details of the new plan will be finalized by the beginning of May.

“I’m going to get student feedback to see what students think,” Lombardi said. “Obviously, each one of those enhancements comes with a cost.”

The possible add-ons to the new plan include lowered or eliminated prescription costs; increased vaccine coverage for international students; coverage for sexually transmitted infections, not including HIV; improved vision coverage, and extended coverage for psychiatric medication, said Lauren Mente, a graduate student studying nursing and public health and the senator for the College of Health Sciences and Professions.

While these add-ons are still being negotiated, two other enhancements — prescription drug benefit and full coverage for preventative care — have already been integrated into the new plan.

The former will increase the current cap for psychoanalytic drugs — $50,000 per student each year — to $2.5 million per student each year.

Lombardi added that with the prescription drug benefit, students will no longer have to wait to be reimbursed for prescription drugs.

“Under the new plan, all they’ll have to do is have their verification, and (the prescription) will be billed right through the insurance company,” Lombardi said.

Mente added that the current plan does not cover immunizations or medications to treat preexisting conditions, which are two areas she said she would like to see addressed in the new policy.

The revised policy will call for a .8 percent increase in travel immunizations, which will amount to an additional $10 to the student premium rate.

“We also had some concern about the limited explanation about the costs of services because the policy is very vague, and it doesn’t give you very specifics,” Mente said.

She also said another area of emphasis for the revised insurance plan is the coverage of hormone therapy for transgender students.

Kris Grey, a transgender student advocate on GSS and a third-year MSA student, has been working with GSS to discuss issues of transgender health care. His goal is to remove the language in the insurance policy that excludes transgender students from coverage.

“The (hormone) treatment for trans students isn’t something that’s rare or out of the ordinary,” Grey said. “It’s the same thing as, say, a student who has a testosterone imbalance. … The insurance company would cover that.”

Grey, who is transmasculine, said his hormone treatment can cost about $70 for a three-month supply.

“We would like the hormones to be covered at an equal amount that any other medication would be covered,” Grey said.

Under the revised plan, the proposed premium rate for sexual re-assignment surgery, therapy and counseling will rise .75 percent for students, spouses and children, tacking on an additional $10 to the student premium.

Lombardi said anyone who purchases the student insurance plan will have this premium included in their plan whether they use the benefit or not.

“I feel really hopeful that if the students keep their voices raised not only in these issues but in the other issues that are pivotal in tailoring the health care package, the administration will hopefully work with them to better serve our student population,” Grey said.


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