Students shouldn't be made to pay for insurance

By Jessica Kenyon

              Increasing tuition rates seems to be a theme at universities throughout the state.  According to the University of Northern Colorado’s website, tuition has increased every year for at least the past five years. When evaluating the summary of charges for students, there is one figure that substantially stands out as unneeded, the student health insurance plan.
            On April 6, 2011, students received an email from Kay Norton, president of UNC, explaining the potential tuition increase for the 2011-12 school year.
             “We anticipate that the undergraduate full-time base tuition rate for the year (not per semester) will be $5,300 for Colorado residents and $16,822 for non-residents. This is an increase of $620 for residents and $958 for non-residents,” she wrote.
            Like most colleges, UNC requires students with nine credit hours or more to have health insurance.  For students who don’t have their own plan or are not on their parents’ plan, UNC offers an adequate version of health insurance. 
            Health insurance can be extremely costly, whether it’s the school’s plan or a plan from an outside carrier. According to UNC’s health insurance website, the plan was $915 per semester for the 2010-11 school year.
            Students should be given the option as to whether or not they want to spend a lot of money on a plan they may never use. It is absurd to be required to pay almost $1,000 a semester when there is a possibility that health insurance will not be needed. 
            This is my fourth year at UNC, and all four years I have been enrolled in the school’s health insurance plan.  I have gone to the doctor twice. That means I have paid nearly $7,500 for those visits. That is $3,750 per visit.
            If students chose to opt out of UNC’s plan, they must provide proof of another plan that is comparable. According to UNC’s health insurance brochure, which is mailed to students at the beginning of the year, the school offers a plan with an extremely low deductable of only $300 in-network and $600 out-of-network, which is hard to beat. 
             It is hard to find a comparable plan to UNC’s that is at a reasonable price. Typically, The cheaper the plan, the higher the deductable will be. The problem with this is that UNC’s plan offers a really low deductable which is hard to beat at a cheap price.
            Students who choose to opt out of UNC’s plan must fill out an insurance waiver form. This form is used to determine if an outside insurance carrier is comparable.
            Yes, there are students who are prone to accidents or have weak immune systems and get sick easily. For students like this, not having health insurance could potentially be extremely costly. The two doctors visits I have made in my four years here would’ve exceeded $400 each visit. Luckily for me, I only had to pay the $20 co-pay.
            What would make matters worse is if a student needed to go to the hospital. Hospital expenses can be very pricey and deductibles can be reached easily in just one visit.  This is a situation where having health insurance would be essential.
            Without health insurance, all the fees associated with these visits would be the student’s responsibility, which would be a financial burden.
            With that being said, these situations are not the same for every student. Students should at least be given the option to decide whether they want to spend an outrageous amount of money every year for something they may never use.
            We are talking about college students, whose decisions and responsibilities constantly affect their daily lives. People should not be forced to pay for health insurance.

Jessica Kenyon is a senior journalism and mass communications major at the University of Northern Colorado.