Student insurance raises questions

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Former student Ranee Solmonsson left Pacific University after a billing statement with a $115 health insurance charge was mailed to her in December. Being a non-degree-seeking student, Solomonsson felt there was no need for the charge.

After contacting the Business Office, Solomonsson was told she had missed the deadline for approval indicating she had her own health insurance. Solomonsson was advised to personally write a letter to Pacific’s insurance company, Academic Health Plans, asking that the charge be revoked.

Solomonsson’s request was denied. The insurance company said, “Coverage has been and will remain in force and can be applied as excess coverage over your existing coverage you already have in place.”

Refusing to pay her $115 balance, Solomonsson was not able to receive a transcript proving she completed the class. Without this proof the reimbursement of her course expense by her employer would be revoked.  As a result, Solomonsson has gone elsewhere to finish her Talented and Gifted Education certificate.

Solomonsson has taken three courses at Pacific. She was taking a class during the fall 2011 semester and registered the final course she needed for spring 2012. Solomonsson was taking courses for her TGE certificate and on-going professional development.

The most upsetting aspect of this situation to Solomonsson was not being notified about an option to opt out of the healthcare.

“This is very frustrating. The university should differentiate between types of students when applying this charge,” said Solomonsson. “There was also no communication to me about the charge or the possibility of opting out, until I received a balance due notice in December.”

Pacific responded by stating that all registered students enrolled in one or more credit hours are required to participate in the Student Health Insurance Plan. The premium is automatically added to the tuition billing statement unless proof of comparable coverage is provided with the completed waiver form and returned to the university Business Office by the deadline date for approval.

Pacific has contracted with Academic Health Plans since 2005.

The requirement for students who take one or more credits on campus to have healthcare started in the 2009-10 school year.

Dean of Education Mark Ankeny said that several years ago, if students were enrolled in six credits or more, they would be billed for the insurance.

“When the requirement was six credits or more, many students who wished to be covered with insurance were ineligible and therefore not able to obtain affordable insurance. The current requirement allows all students to have affordable health insurance coverage,” said Ankeny.

The Academic Health Plans insurance covers major medical and prescription coverage. Ankeny said that in 2011 more than 92 percent of students at Pacific were full-time students, thus they understand and expect that there should be insurance coverage.

“When part-time students speak to a Pacific employee about their intent to take a course, the academic program support staff clearly informs them of the health insurance policy. In fact, programs like the College of Education, make it very clear by stapling a brightly colored paper to the registration form needed to register for a course,” said Ankeny. “However, it is possible for part time students to by-pass speaking to anyone at Pacific and simply download the registration form from our website. Since the registration form previously did not have a statement regarding the health insurance policy there have been some rare occasions where students found out about it only when they received their bill.”


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