An Unlikely Culprit Emerges in the Battle for Affordable Health Insurance

MedSave Admin | November 17, 2008

Our national health care affordability crisis has been blamed on doctors, insurance companies, lawyers and pharmaceutical companies. But now a new and unlikely culprit emergencies - America's colleges and universities.

New York attorney general Andrew Cuomo launched an investigation into the business relationships between health insurance companies and his state's colleges and universities. The investigation was reported in The New York Times (11/16/08).

Colleges were censured over the past few years for pushing deals with student loan companies. Now the attention has turned to colleges that push health insurance that may not be in the best interest of the students.

The problem is not confined to New York state. A recent survey of America's largest colleges and universities showed a surprisingly strong push by some colleges to push students into health plans promoted by the college. University of Wisconsin and University of Texas were cited as the worst offenders, requiring that all international students enroll in a health insurance plan. The sales agent is apparently provided an on-campus office to facilitate the sales program. International students tend to be less sophisticated on U.S. health insurance issues and are believed to be less likely to protest this type of strong-armed approach. Other universities seem to be moving in this direction as public acceptance of the concept of universal coverage slowly gains political acceptance.

Some of the nation's largest commercial health insurance recognize the marketing value of a university's endorsement. Aetna has moved into the market of endorsed student health insurance sales by establishing sponsorship relationships with some of the nation's largest colleges including sponsored student health insurance plans for four of the ten largest U.S. universities including Arizona State University, Univerity of Florida, University of Central Florida and Michigan State University. The financial relationships between the insurance company and the college is not apparent to most students and their parents who purchase this insurance. Assurant Health also markets to U.S. colleges and boasts revenue sharing financial relationships with many school's alumni associations. While the sponsored insurance plan may be suitable for some students, it is not likely to be the best deal for the majority of college students who need health insurance.

MedSave.com supports the option of colleges and universities to require its students to have health insurance as a condition of enrollment. However, we strongly oppose the efforts to require a specific insurance that is more expensive than other options and not in the students' best interest. Additionally we oppose any revenue sharing relationship when the college benefits from its policy to require insurance and then steers students into a specific insurance plan. We are committed to educating students and families on all of the available options and believe that best results are obtained by allowing the widest possible range of affordable health insurance plans to college students without bias or undue influence by our universities.

Cuomo Investigating Colleges' Deals With Health Insurers - NYTimes.com

Tags : aetna, student health insurance, assurant

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