The University of Richmond will offer a new, mandatory health insurance plan for domestic students for the 2020-21 school year in a departure from the previous optional plan.
The new UR Student Health Insurance Plan, SHIP, announced by UR Communations on May 19, is a mandatory health plan that aims to ensure that every full-time student has health insurance, said Keesha Trim, director of risk management.
Previously, solely international students were required to pay for insurance. Starting in the 2020-21 year, full-time domestic students will have an additional $2,918 added to their tuition to pay for the insurance, unless students can prove they have insurance with comparable or better coverage, Students will have to pay unless they get a waiver because they have comparable health coverage or they receive need-based financial aid, according to SHIP's website.
Students with comparable insurance, such as their parents' employer-sponsored plans can opt-out of SHIP, Trim said.
All students will be required to pay for the insurance unless they prove they have comparable insurance by Aug. 31, Trim said.
Payments will be charged in two installments, $1,459 per semester, totaling $2,918, Trim said.
SHIP covers routine medical care, specialist care and mental health services, Trim said.
Several students have expressed concern about the new plan, specifically with how it will affect lower-income students, one of whom is rising sophomore Kaelyn Reid.
Reid said she believed the plan could be helpful but expressed concern about the new plan replacing other COVID-19 preventative measures. She also worried about the potential financial strain paying for SHIP could cause, she said.
“I see how the new policy can be helpful to protect against COVID-19, but it’s still not a preventative measure such as increased cleaning, decreased class sizes, enforced masks, curfews, et cetera,” Reid said.
“As well, now students are forced to cough up more money to the school that they might not have. If it’s a requirement, then it should be universally accessible. UR SHIP should be free.”
The university took different socio-economic backgrounds into consideration when discussing the logistics of the plan, said Lisa Miles, associate director of the Office of Common Ground.
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Students who demonstrate financial need and do not have access to an employer-sponsored health program can contact the office of financial aid to "determine resources available" to pay for SHIP, Trim said.
Students who receive a waiver to opt out of the program only need to request a waiver once per year, Trim said.
Sophomore Razan Khalil called the new policy a blessing.
“If a student gets COVID-19 if we were to go back on campus and they didn’t have health insurance, that would be a very terrible situation,” Khalil said. “The fact that the school is also aiding students like myself who are either low-income or on the borderline of low-income is really a blessing. I didn’t have health insurance all of last year, and let me tell you, it was the worst year experienced.
"I was constantly paranoid if something were to happen to my health, thinking if I can’t afford basic health care that I’d just end up dying or in a huge amount of debt.”
The policy goes into effect on Aug. 31, and once it is in effect, it will cover students for 11 months, according to SHIP's website. Students who meet the requirements to opt out may do so on firststudent.com.
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