UCSD Joins UC-Wide Student Health Insurance Plan to Save Money

UCSD decided to opt into UC-SHIP the weekend of April 4, after hesitating to join the UC-wide student health insurance plan due to concerns that the university’s competitive mental healthcare rates, co-insurance discounts and dental and vision benefits might be lost under the systemwide plan.

The systemwide health insurance plan will combine the insurance plans of over 130,000 students across 10 UC campuses, in addition to UC Hastings College of Law. The plan — which will go into effect Aug. 15 — aims to give students more pharmaceutical and treatment benefits and provide a dependent-plan option for families. It aims to reduce student coverage fees, but they were not lowered at UCSD.

With a campuswide plan, the UC system negotiated a better rate with Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield.

“It is clear that savings have been achieved, but there is no hard number yet,” UC Office of the President spokesperson Leslie Sepuka said.

UCSD Student Health Services Director Regina Fleming said the costs are lower because they do not have an insurance broker, not because of premiums.

Fleming said she does not have numbers for UCSD because they are not medically relevant and are based on numbers from a consulting firm. The committee first suggested opting out because the current plan had the same premium and offered a more comprehensive coverage for students.

As a result, UC-SHIP representatives, who negotiate with insurance companies, contacted Fleming in February in hopes of reaching an agreement with UCSD.

“The initial decision was not to join the UC-wide plan,” Fleming said. “We were contacted by the [UC]OP and discussions continued at a higher campus level. There was a huge incentive for UCSD to join because as time went on, all other campuses joined [UC-SHIP].”

During negotiations, UCSD was provided the option to opt out of certain benefits, like full vision and dental coverage that were 40 percent more expensive under UC-SHIP.

“[UCSD was] provided the flexibility to maintain their local arrangements for dental and vision coverage to ensure the most cost-effective plan for students,” Sepuka said.

Furthermore, Graduate Student Association Vice President of Finance Taylor Bright said costs for dental coverage and experience claims looked too high, so he asked UCOP to recalculate them.

The recalculated plan provides lowered premium rates. Before recalculations, UCSD students would have to pay an eight-percent increase for UC-SHIP, from $290 to $315. But an increase would have occurred regardless, because the insurance companies increase the premium every year, Fleming said.

UC-SHIP allows UCSD students to keep the same dental and vision benefits, but receive better immunization and pharmacy co-pay coverage.

Under UCSD’s current plan, students would have to pay $25 for some vaccines and full price for others.

Under UC-SHIP, all vaccines except those required for international travel are free. UC-SHIP also covers 90 percent of travel vaccines that students need for certain study abroad programs. This benefit is not available under UCSD’s current plan.

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