April 9, 2004
By Virginia E. Carter
The rising cost of health care affecting everyone in the country
will also have an impact on students who participate in the
student health insurance plan.
Premiums for the plan, underwritten by The Chickering Group,
will increase nearly 34 percent for the 2004-05 year. For
individual coverage, the annual cost will be $1,600, payable
at the time of enrollment in the health plan.
Chickering has served as the University’s carrier since 2002-03.
The Student Health Insurance Committee (SHIC), which consists of
students, faculty and administrators, chose Chickering following
an open and competitive bid process. The current contract with
Chickering is effective through Aug. 24, 2005.
Vice President for Student
Affairs Patricia M. Lampkin stated
she was concerned about the premium increases, recognizing
the increased fees will have on many students. However, after
months of work, staff were convinced that the increases could
not be avoided.
Dr. James C. Turner, executive director of Student
said that Chickering’s plan offers a comprehensive benefits package,
which has been very important to students in the past and has been
requested by students represented through SHIC.
There are several reasons that the insurance premiums are
increasing at this rate, Turner said.
inflation in the health care industry, including pharmaceuticals,
is increasing at 15 to 20 percent, and these costs
are being passed on to consumers,” he said.
“Second, the Chickering
plan offers very good and very comprehensive benefits. Health insurance
plans offering less protection would cost less, but SHIC
has not considered substantial reductions in benefits to be desirable.”
Finally, Turner said U.Va.’s plan experienced extremely heavy
utilization by students and their dependents over the past two
years. “In combination with nationwide rising
health-care costs, heavy utilization here at U.Va.
drove our plan costs for
2004 up substantially. The rapid rise in health insurance
costs is a common nationwide trend.”
Turner said that the premium increases would have
been even higher, approaching 60 percent, if negotiations
included some benefit modifications. Those changes,
which also will take effect with the 2004-05 plan
deductible, an increased copayment, a coinsurance
cost for physician office visits, and an annual
recognize the concerns that students will have over these changes,” said
Lampkin. “The trade-offs necessary between premium costs
and plan benefits are difficult.”
Chickering is a business enterprise that is separate
and distinct from U.Va. The Chickering Group
to provide an independent student insurance
plan that complements the health-care services offered
Center. Students who pay the Student Activity
Fee and are resident
full- and part-time students carrying at least
one semester hour are
eligible to receive care at Student Health.
While the majority of undergraduates have health-care
coverage through a parent’s policy, many graduate and first-professional
students opt to participate in the University-sponsored plan. Graduate
and first-professional students are more likely to purchase coverage
for their spouses and dependents through the University plan.
Another change that all students will experience
this year is increased enforcement of the
Board of Visitors
requiring all students
to carry health insurance. In the past,
the University has undertaken
strict compliance only for newly entering
Starting in the 2004-05 academic year,
the University will be carefully monitoring
that all students – undergraduate,
graduate and international – are covered by a licensed health-care
insurance carrier in order to enroll in and remain a student at
Students are not required to select the
Chickering plan, but must be insured.
Students who fail
to provide proof
coverage will be blocked from registration
for the spring semester. Student Health
a new web-based
program that will make insurance verification
for returning students simple
Information about the student health
insurance plan is available on Chickering's
www.chickering.com, or by calling
U.Va.'s Chickering Customer Services
also may stop by the U.Va. Student
Health Center, where they can pick
and referral coordinator.
In addition, U.Va. has prepared a
list of frequently asked questions
the plan, available
MAJOR CHANGES AT A GLANCE
2004-05 Premiums (annual)
• $4,011 Student and spouse
• $6,077 Student, spouse and one child
• $7,038 Student, spouse and two or more children
• Annual deductible of $150
• Preferred Care Provider copayment of $20 (previously $15)
• 10 percent coinsurance for physician office visits
• Annual prescription deductible of $100
• Policy premiums for individual students ($1,600) must be paid
• A quarterly payment option is available for dependent
premium payments at no additional charge.
• The annual plan is effective Aug. 25, 2004, through Aug. 24,
o Students may enroll in the Chickering Plan during the initial
enrollment period of July 1 through Nov. 27, 2004. Students
enrolling by Nov. 27 will have retroactive coverage to Aug.
• For students attending the University in the fall semester,
the plan is offered only on an annual basis, and the full individual
premium is required up-front.
• Special enrollment periods also are available for students
who enter the University at different times. For details,
students will need to provide proof of health-care insurance
coverage – whether from Chickering or from some other
insurance provider. Failure to do so will result in a registration
for spring semester.