Student health plan seeks exemption

Health care laws might affect Temple, which renews its student health plan in 2011.

Health care laws might affect Temple, which renews its student health plan in 2011.

The American College Health Association and other  similar groups oppose certain requirements for the health care bill, which may make it impossible for colleges and universities to continue to offer student health plans, according to a Sept. 27 report by the Wall Street Journal’s health blog.

The report stated college health plans may need to abide by new restrictions for group and individual plans. The change could prove costly, as constraints could mean that at least 80 percent of revenues are spent on medical costs, as opposed to administrative.

Florence Stopper, the senior account executive for Temple at Independence Blue Cross, said the university will not require “that much of a leap to be compliant” with the health care reform laws.

“The benefits that most of the Temple students have access to are richer and more comprehensive than the typical college student plan in our area and around the country,” Stopper said.

Normal student plans that have limitations, such as lifetime maximums or even annual maximums, will need to “improve those benefit levels,” Stopper said.  However, Temple will only have to remove the lifetime limit for the out-of-network benefit as well as change its absent co-pay on preventative  services.

The changes will have to be made before September 2011, when the university renews its health plan.

Independence Blue Cross has partnered with Temple students for more than 15 years, and there are currently five health plans available through the health-care company. Approximately 4,000 students enroll each year, Stopper said.

The Basic Personal Choice Preferred Provider Organization is a new plan Independence Blue Cross devised for college students. Stopper said the company thought it would be “attractive for local students.”

The plan has options for students during six month periods or for year-long coverage. If students on the plan leave the city, they can still use the Philadelphia-based PPO across the country, Stopper said. Enrollment for the plan ended Oct. 8.

As of Sept. 23, new consumer protections and benefits went into effect for young people across the United States  under the new federal health care law.

Insurers can no longer drop a policy due to errors in a client’s paperwork, allowing the client to appeal any denial of care. Also, people can remain on their parents’ insurance plans until age 26.

“You’re more likely to get a yearly health exam that might start to detect certain things as you get older, as opposed to really putting off your health care because you can’t afford it,” Patricia Sullivan, a junior geology and urban studies major said of the new changes.

Erin Poplar, a junior speech pathology student, said the option to remain on her parents’ plan will be a positive benefit.

“[It’s] great because I’m going to be in graduate school after college, so I won’t have a real job for quite some time until I’m, at the earliest, 24, 25,” Poplar said. “That’s just one less thing to worry about while going to school.”

Temple Student Government Senate President Colin Saltry said “it’s very important” that students review the “Young Person’s Guide to Health Insurance,” a reference guide that outlines the changes in health insurance for young people, which the Pennsylvania Public Interest Research Group released while at Main Campus on Sept. 27.

“What’s more important than health, right?” Sullivan said. “Your students’ health should be paramount, especially as a public university. I would say [Temple] definitely needs to step it up and provide more services and more opportunities for students to get free health care.”

Connor Showalter can be reached at

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