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Davis, California

Sunday, March 3, 2024

Undergraduate health insurance at a glance

Paying $374 per quarter for the Undergraduate Student Health Insurance Plan may seem expensive, but its benefits may outweigh the costs.

Offered through Anthem Blue Cross of California and Delta Dental, USHIP is a comprehensive medical, dental and vision preferred provider organization (PPO) insurance. The plan offers a variety of services, which registered undergraduate students can pay for through the quarterly charge and through co-payments. With roughly 10,000 UC Davis students enrolled, USHIP operates mainly out of the Student Health and Wellness Center.

The university began requiring health insurance from all students because many students facing medical issues – without medical insurance – were forced to drop out of school due to financial issues.

Todd Atwood, supervisor for insurance services at Student Health Services, said with just the amount of bike accidents on campus, the health insurance can be cost effective.

“It provides peace of mind. You don’t know what’s going to happen in the next 60 seconds. With the sheer number of bicycles and people who maybe haven’t ridden in awhile, chances are you [will] get hurt,” Atwood said.

Compared to the top health insurance provider in California, Kaiser Foundation Health Plan, Inc., USHIP offers the general student population little choice in the amount and cost of coverage.

Dyllana Flynn, customer service representative for Kaiser, said student plans are different from plans from private insurance companies because each private plan is customizable. Buyers also have to be approved for the company, which usually depends on their medical history.

Instead, coverage and premiums are primarily decided by the SHIP advisory committee, which is composed of students, university administration and faculty. The committee recommends changes and additions to many of the benefits and premiums to the vice chancellor of student affairs, Fred Wood.

The SHIP advisory committee’s purpose is to provide a broad-based and affordable insurance plan to students. The committee could not be reached for commenting at press time.

USHIP also does not cover routine vaccinations such as Gardasil, the $150 vaccine used to prevent Human papillomavirus. The vaccine protects against four types of HPV and can prevent 70 percent of cervical cancers and 90 percent of genital warts.

“HPV is going to be covered next year. [The committee] asks if it’s cost efficient to cover a certain vaccine. They take into account the cost per student,” Atwood said.

Atwood, however, said USHIP is more cost efficient than other health insurances, especially considering the $15 charge for a primary care visit.

“There really aren’t any disadvantages [to USHIP]. Eighty percent deductible is really quite good compared to other insurance providers with much more expensive deductibles,” Atwood said.

When using a PPO provider, USHIP covers 80 percent of procedures such as acupuncture, transgender surgery (also known as sex-reassignment surgery) and chiropractic services, but it does not cover corrective eye surgery, cosmetic surgery (excluding reconstructive surgery), certain dental procedures and treatment of chronic pain.

USHIP insures prescriptions, such as oral contraceptives, at 100 percent after a $15 co-pay for generic drugs or a $20 co-pay for brand name drugs. Additionally, a $50 co-pay is required for treatments in an emergency room.

When using a PPO provider, the university insurance plan pays for 90 percent of substance abuse treatment and detoxification, along with mental or nervous disorder care.

The university health plan does not cover charges for injuries resulting from intercollegiate athletics, extreme sports such as bungee cord jumping or hang gliding, committing crime and nuclear energy.

Due to the new Affordable Care Act, adults under 26 years of age can remain on their parent’s insurance plan, which allows undergraduate students more options to fulfill UC Davis’ required health insurance policy. Many students opt out of the USHIP program and remain on their parent’s insurance plan.

UC Davis is currently in negotiations with a new provider to start a new UC-wide undergraduate health insurance policy for the 2011-2012 school year.

This past fall quarter, the UC systems replaced the Davis specific graduate health insurance with the University of California Graduate Student Health Insurance Plan (GSHIP), a systemwide health insurance plan for graduate students.

For a detailed look at the USHIP or GSHIP, including exceptions and details not listed, visit http://healthcenter.ucdavis.edu/pdf/uship10-benefits-booklet-medical.pdf.

GRACE BENEFIELD can be reached at features@theaggie.org.


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