Student health care plan price spikes

The price of the University’s student health insurance plan increased by 21 percent this year following a surge in medical costs.

At $1,977 annually, the new fee for the optional health care package grew largely as a result of climbing health care costs across the U.S.

“Generally, health insurance premiums for all plans – including student health insurance plans – are a reflection of the growing cost of health care services,” Ethan Slavin, a spokesperson for Aetna, GW’s health care provider, said.

Isabel Goldenberg, medical director of Student Health Service, said national health care reform was a “major driver” in the cost for all student health care plans.

She said the plan’s higher rates could also be attributed to its expanded coverage.

Based on student and parent comments and requests, the plan now includes preventative services like sexual transmitted disease testing once per year, annual gynecologic visits and an influenza vaccination.

The maximum lifetime benefits on the plan increased from $100,000 to $1 million to cover the costs of surgery, emergency and inpatient care, including psychiatric hospitalization.

This year’s plan includes a $200 deductible for services rendered outside Student Health Service and it eliminated co-payments for “in network” care provided at partner institutions.

Students with the insurance plan paid $30 each time they visited a specialist or had blood drawn outside Student Health Service last year.

The price of GW’s plan remains higher than those offered by similar and neighboring colleges. New York University’s basic health care plan costs $1,614, while at American University the rate is $1,720. George Mason University, which also provides Aetna services, charges $1,600.

Goldenberg said the University also looked at the “changing landscape” of student insurance rates at comparable institutions.

“When reviewing student health insurance coverage at other colleges and universities, comparing the fee is only one piece of a larger puzzle,” Goldenberg said.

The $25 fee per visit to Student Health Service under a private plan will not increase. The price, which is waived for students on the GW plan, has not changed in three years.

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