July 3, 2022
  • July 3, 2022

The task force responds to student health insurance needs

By on June 1, 2022 0

Back when DePaul didn’t offer a student health insurance plan, Joanna Buscemi, an assistant professor of psychology, watched as one of her students at DePaul worked tirelessly to complete her doctorate at age 26. year. If started immediately after graduating, a doctorate is usually completed around age 27 or 28. However, the Buscemi student had diabetes and needed insulin coverage. In the United States, in most cases, you can no longer be on your parents’ insurance once you turn 26.

In the case of this student, that would have meant a few years without insulin coverage had she not been able to graduate early, enter the workforce, and access health insurance. On average, insulin costs $6,000 a year if it’s not insured.

This is not the case for individuals from all schools. Nearby colleges such as the University of Illinois at Chicago, Loyola University, Northwestern University, and the University of Chicago all offer optional health insurance for their students. DePaul also offered coverage through 2014. An estimated 71% of private, nonprofit four-year colleges in the United States offer student health insurance.

However, in January of this year, a group of DePaul students, faculty, and staff convened a task force to determine if a student health insurance plan is a necessity at DePaul. The group’s goal is to collect data to “make a recommendation to senior management by the end of the academic year,” according to Eugene Zdziarski, DePaul’s vice president of student affairs, who leads the task force. .

DePaul stopped his insurance in 2014 when the Affordable Care Act was passed under the Obama administration, according to Zdziarski.

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) was passed in March 2010, which required all US citizens to have a health insurance plan. As a result, a survey “found that residents who earned up to $30,150 ($61,500 for a family of four) and were eligible for the most generous ACA grants spent about 17% less per year. in health care costs.

By the time DePaul ended his insurance plan, the health care market became more affordable than membership in the college insurance plan.

Eligibility changed in January 2019 when it was “no longer federally mandatory” to have health insurance coverage.

In 2014, the average annual premium, or amount paid up front for health insurance, was about $6,025 for a single person plan. By 2021, that number had grown to around $7,739.

“Premiums were really high because people weren’t signing up for the program,” Buscemi said of the premiums for DePaul’s former health insurance offering for students.

Graduate students, who are no longer covered by their parents’ coverage, are among the hardest hit. In the submission to nominate herself to join the task force, Buscemi described how she has personally seen graduate students suffer physically, mentally and academically due to their insecurity.

“I saw a student fall behind in her classes and her research because she had a car accident that resulted in injuries she couldn’t afford to treat,” she told The DePaulia.

Himali Bhandari serves as the graduate student representative on the working group.

“As a graduate student, I’m already very stressed and busy, and the fact that I don’t have reliable insurance is a hindrance,” she said.

Bhandari is also part of a graduate student association that conducted a survey of graduate students that found “substantial data” in support of student health insurance. When asked about the results of that investigation, Bhandari said she was unable to share the information.

Beyond graduate students, Buscemi thinks “the needs of undergraduate students have increased.”

In 2018, 7.9% of university students are uninsured. The survey showed that Hispanic and black students are among the most affected, with 14.8% of Hispanic students and 11.5% of black students uninsured.

Bhandari and Buscemi led a survey sent to a sample of DePaul students to assess the overall need for student health insurance that was sent April 20. They did not reveal how many students received the survey or responded.

The survey found that nine percent of DePaul students are uninsured. Among these students, 54% had not been insured for more than a year.

Danaka Katovich, the national co-director of Code Pink who graduated in 2018, was one of many affected by the lack of student health insurance during her time at DePaul. Katovich is from California and did not have access to his health insurance in Chicago.

“I have prescription meds and should be going home to see my doctor to fill my prescriptions,” Katovich said. “I could only get it back there too, so I’d have to see if I can get three months until I can get home and get some more.”

Katovich said that would have made his time at DePaul much easier for the university to provide cover.

“I was working around the healthcare system, the healthcare system wasn’t working for me,” Katovich said. “I mean, think about the number of international students DePaul has. I know I was not a rare case.

Katovich’s experience with underinsurance inspired his universal health care activism and organized “Medicare for Mike” last year. She organized neighbors in Lakeview and Lincoln Park to appeal to Mike Quigley, the representative for Illinois’ 5th congressional district, which includes Lincoln Park, to co-sponsor Medicare for All.

“We sat in front of his desk for three weeks every day,” Katovich said.

They were ultimately successful in making Quigley the 114th co-sponsor of the bill on March 26, 2021, according to a statement posted on Quigley’s website.

The task force has not yet concluded a price for students to purchase health insurance from DePaul. According to Zdziarski, students plan to pay between $2,000 and $5,000 a year based on the task force’s research on other universities’ programs.

Compared to neighboring universities, Loyola University’s student health insurance costs $3,190 per year, the Northwestern University program costs $4,386 per year, and the University of Chicago program costs $4,566 during the course. of the 2021-22 academic year.

The task force continues its work until the end of the term to make its recommendation by the end of the academic year.