International student insurance rates increased to $2,340 for this academic year and international students are required to buy the university plan without exception.

The University of Richmond health insurance webpage states that the Aetna Student Health plan cost $1,745 last year but increased to $2,340 this year. According to the website, undergraduate degree-seeking students on non-immigrant visas and all visiting students, regardless of their immigration status, are required to have this university-offered plan. 

Students here on F-1 and J-1 visas who do not purchase the plan cannot register for classes and will be in violation of their student visa statuses, the site states. 

“It’s just a little surprise,” Angie Zhao, an international sophomore, said about the insurance price increase. “Of course, I don’t think it’s necessary.” 

Zhao said insurance in the U.S. was really expensive in general. She does not use the UR health insurance plan that often and said the increase was aimed toward international students who already pay a large amount of money. 

Yang Yang, an international junior, also said the plan was too expensive. 

“Every university will have some deal or treaty with insurance companies that offer it as an official plan to international students,” Yang said. “But also many universities give them title management to international students to waive the official plan and to choose another health plan.”

Yang said the University of Virginia, one of UR's rival institutions, offered this type of waiver. 

According to the University of Virginia's student health website, the institution offers a hard waiver to waive the Aetna Health Insurance plan if students can show they are on another insurance plan that provides adequate coverage. 

“The only choice [at UR] is the Aetna plan, and I think this is unreasonable,” Yang said. 

Yang said that medical treatment in the Student Health Center was not covered and it is not in the network for Aetna. She said she must pay the full fee for treatment at the health center without reimbursement. 

Yang created a proposal about having an option to select other plans and the freedom to buy plans that meet U.S. law and the university’s standards. Yang said it had been rejected by UR's director of risk management. 

Zhao also wished there were more options, she said. However, she said the information from the university made her believe that Aetna was a good plan as she does not know much about health insurance.   

“Probably there will be more options, but I’m still going to get it,” Zhao said. 

Director of Risk Management Keesha Trim said the university had selected the Aetna plan based on several factors, including out-of-pocket costs. 

She said there had been increases across the board for medical care costs. 

International health insurance comes from a small market, and the international insurance committee members at the University of Richmond negotiate on behalf of students, Trim explained. 

She also said an increase in medical claims, medical treatment and more costly procedures from students on the Aetna Student Health plan had caused the cost to increase. 

Information on the website was unavailable for a few weeks because of site changes for international education. Currently, information about the plan and payment can be found on the international health insurance webpage for the university. 

Contact news writer Raven Baugh at raven.baugh@richmond.edu.