Voluntary Domestic Student Health Insurance is now being offered by OU

Katarina Kovac, Campus Editor

Blue Cross Blue Shield (BCBS) of Michigan and Oakland University have teamed up and are now offering health insurance for domestic students. All full- and part-time students enrolled in a degree program are now eligible to voluntarily sign up for health insurance coverage. Through this plan, students will have access to quality health care through the BCBS provider network.

“When the ACA (Affordable Care Act) came into existence, most of the domestic voluntary health plans for students were discontinued,” said Nancy Marshall, assistant vice president for Student Affairs and Dean of Students.  “We were approached by Blue Cross earlier this year and we were excited to once again be able to offer the product.”

OU does not require students to have health insurance, but it is strongly recommended.

“It’s a comprehensive, affordable plan that is priced very competitively because the target audience is young, healthy adults,” Marshall said.  “While some students are eligible for government subsidies, many are not.”

When BCBS approached OU, the staff knew it was a smart decision to make.

“I always kept an eye open to see if any companies were offering it, as I know it’s something important for students to have,” said Adult Nurse Practitioner-Board Certified (ANP-BC) Director Nancy Jansen. “Then we got in contact with Blue Cross, who in the past, were never in the student health insurance market. We were ecstatic about it.”

When students sign up for this plan, there is no benefit to the clinic. This policy benefits the students.

“This plan follows the Affordable Care Act,” Jansen said. “There is a $500 annual deductible, meaning whenever you go to access care, the first $500 is out of pocket for yourself, except for preventative care like vaccines or physicals. Then there is a co-pay with office visits. After the $500 deductible is met, the insurance covers 80 percent. Office copays after you meet the deductible are $20.”

If students are still on their parents’ plan and are wondering whether to opt for this plan instead, they should talk to their parents about which option is less costly.

“If you’re looking at the most recent statistics, the one age group that is least insured is 26 year olds, because once they turn 26, they are off their parents insurance, and it is expensive,” said Dr. Renda Dawud M.D., physician at the Graham Health Center. “There are high deductible plans which are not feasible for most. That’s why offering a plan like this is important.”

Students who opt for this insurance can then download the mobile BCBS app on their iPhone or Android smartphones. They’ll need their Blue Cross card to set up the online account, and then they’ll be able to use a virtual ID card, view plan details, compare costs and find doctors near them. They can also find wellness tips from WebMD and discounts from Blue365.

Young people are as vulnerable to illness, accidents and the consequences of bad decisions as adults are. The only difference is that when emergency medical expenses do come up, students are rarely in a financial position to cover them.  This is why insurance is necessary.

OU’s campus clinic, Graham Health Center, accepts BCBS and is open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.  For additional information or to begin the enrollment process, visit the Student Health Insurance Plan website.