I don’t understand why the voluntary premiums are going up so dramatically. How could you announce this at an already stressful time for students?
Our student health plan has faced a number of challenges in recent years, including declining enrollment, a growing number of high-dollar claims, and a very high loss ratio. In other words, claims spending is significantly higher than the amount of premiums being collected. We convened a University-wide committee, representing students, faculty and staff from all four campuses, to carefully consider and debate the options for addressing these challenges. There were no easy options. Ultimately, the committee recommended, and NU leadership unanimously approved, a “split pricing” structure to preserve the sustainability of our plan. We’re sharing the new rates now to give students time to plan and to consider their options.
Why increase premiums so dramatically for voluntary participants, while keeping the increase for mandatory participants so minimal? Couldn’t you have “spread the pain” equally among all enrollees?
The committee did consider this option – one of what might be considered a menu of bad options. Going this route would have brought challenges of its own. Voluntary participants make up 20% of our plan’s population but account for 35% of claims spending, which affects all participants under a single premium rate structure. The committee recommended, and University leadership has agreed, that without a “split pricing” approach, the future sustainability of our plan would have been in jeopardy.
Will the University continue to sponsor a voluntary plan going forward?
We are not required to sponsor a voluntary plan, and some of our peers do not do so. While we are candidly not optimistic about future pricing trends, our intent is to continue to sponsor a voluntary plan as long as we can provide our students with an option that is competitive in the marketplace.
I can’t afford health insurance with these premium increases. What are my options?
We know the premium increases are difficult news. Still, based on our review, the University-sponsored plan continues to provide the best coverage for the best value that a student can find on the marketplace today. We also recognize students may want to explore their options. They include:
- If you’re a Nebraska resident, you may be eligible for Medicaid under the state’s expanded program beginning Oct.1, 2020. More information about Medicaid expansion in Nebraska is available here.
- If you are a Nebraska resident under the age of 19, or you have a dependent child under the age of 19, you may be eligible for the Nebraska Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). More information is available here.
- You may select a plan from the Affordable Care Act Marketplace and possibly qualify for federal subsidies which will reduce your monthly premium. Choosing not to enroll in the University’s plan would create a “qualifying event” that would allow you to enroll immediately in a new plan from the Marketplace. You can explore the Marketplace here.
- Edusure, a private health insurance clearinghouse for students, offers individual health plans. You can fill out an application and review your options here.
- If you’re age 26 or under, you may be able to obtain health insurance through a parent’s plan.
- You may be able to obtain health insurance through a spouse’s plan.
What is the University doing to keep costs down in the future?
Our commitment to our students is that we are aggressively exploring every option to maintain a competitive health insurance plan. We are convening a system-wide committee to study possible options for 2021-22 and will share any decisions that come out of this process.
How do I know if I’m a “Voluntary” or “Mandatory” participant in the health plan?
“Mandatory” participants are any students who are required by the University of Nebraska to have health insurance. These include students who are automatically enrolled into the plan by the University and have not waived out of the plan (including most graduate assistants, full-time UNMC students and international students); students who participate in the Fulbright English for Graduate Studies Program; students who participate in the Intensive English (ILUNO) program; and UNO and UNK domestic student-athletes who do not have health insurance.
“Voluntary” participants are any students who are not classified by the University as required participants.
If a student chooses to enroll family members in the plan, the premium assessed to the family members will be based on the student’s classification as “Mandatory” or “Voluntary.”