MC Implements New Health Insurance Requirement

by Gabriella DePinho Asst. News Editor

At the end of the 2017-2018 academic year, Manhattan College announced a new student health insurance requirement to be implemented for the 2018-2019 academic year.

In an email sent out on May 25 by Richard Satterlee, Ph.D, Manhattan College’s vice president for student life, the college announced that moving forward, each student would be required to have health insurance coverage. 

Though the announcement was unexpected, Satterlee shared that it is fairly commonplace for MC’s peer institutions to have the same requirement the school is just introducing. 

The plan the school ultimately selected to offer to its students is a gold plan through The Allen J. Flood Companies.

“We had several pieces that we really wanted to have in place. First of all, we wanted it to be Affordable Care Act compliant; that was really important to us,” said Satterlee. “It was really important that the plan we agreed upon covered athletic injuries because we have about 15% of our students on campus participating in intercollegiate athletics and we know that can be onerous, if you’re injured and need medical support.” 

He continued. 

“There are several pieces about this particular plan that were attractive to us. We knew that anybody that adopted this plan would be able to see physicians or receive support locally which is really important.” 

The plan is accepted by the CityMD on 237th street and by local pharmacies. 

Administrators spent all of the 2017-2018 academic year working to find the most affordable plan with good coverage and ultimately opted for this particular plan. 

The cost for one student on the plan is $2,110 for a 12 month period and was added to the tuition bill for the fall semester. 

If students already have health insurance, they can choose to waive out of the plan by providing evidence of and information about the insurance they currently have.

However, an added tuition cost may seem daunting or be a financial strain to those who do need or want to opt in. 

“As a part of the process, we wanted to make sure it was something that could be covered by financial aid and become part of their package,” said Satterlee. 

Lisa Juncaj, Manhattan College’s director of Business Systems, has been instrumental in implementing this plan throughout the college. She was part of the team that searched for the plan and has been fielding many of the questions or concerns coming in from students and families.

“In general, under the federal definitions of cost of attendance, health insurance can be included under that,” said Juncaj. “So generally under any cost of attendance item, financial aid can apply to that, whereas other scholarships generally cover tuition and fees.” 

The deadline to waive or opt-in was set for Aug. 1., but the deadline was extended for the first year. 

“We did have an August deadline and that every year will be our deadline but we did want to factor in the new students enrolling for the first time and also new transfers who happen to come in on a heavy rolling basis so because of that we extended the time period,” said Juncaj, “So we are, day to day, still getting waivers in.” 

As of Aug. 31. approximately 3% of students had filled out the form to opt-in. As of that date, there was also a great number of students that had not either opted in or out. 

How many students opt-in or out and feedback from students will go into a school-wide assessment of the plan and its impact and the school will take it into consideration when planning for the future.  

As of right now, the school administrators have been hearing positive feedback from families and students.

“I had a student in my office the other day who has not had medical coverage in quite a few years because her family is going through some hard times and the fact that she could come back to school and get coverage is a factor in why she’s decided to return this semester,” said Juncaj. “She hasn’t been doing well academically and knows she needs to go for some care and now she’s it as part of her plan.” 

She continued.

“You always here about how this affects retention but now that I’ve seen a story like that in front of me, I know it has an impact,” said Juncaj.

In a similar vein, Satterlee has also seen some positive side effects. 

“It’s enabled us to have a conversation with students about what they need and what’s included and how it’ll benefit their educations,” he said. 

While the plan is considerably affordable and very inclusive, there are some gaps in it that might affect students.

The plan does not cover dental services or vision services and does not cover injuries, illnesses, treatment or medical conditions due to military service or war. The lack of dental or vision service coverage might be a concern for any student but as a school with a large veteran population, the lack of coverage for military service related illnesses or needs might be of some concern to those students. 

Ultimately, the school felt it was important to make sure that students had adequate accessibility to health care, in the case of an emergency that may potentially interrupt one’s education. 

In the announcement email, Satterlee wrote, “Manhattan College’s policy requiring that students have health insurance will ensure continued academic success and the overall health and wellness of our student body. We believe that healthy students, and those with timely access to healthcare services, will be more academically successful.”