Student officials vote in favor of mandatory health insurance

The ASUU Senate and General Assembly voted in favor of a resolution mandating all students to show proof of health insurance before registering for classes April 20.

University of Utah President Michael Young must sign the resolution before being implemented.

The resolution would affect an estimated 17 percent of students who currently attend the U without any health coverage. By Fall Semester of 2007, students without health insurance would not be allowed to attend the U unless they could prove they could not afford coverage.

Student officials said they hope this resolution will help save student health coverage on campus and extend that opportunity to as many students as possible.

“I’m ecstatic,” said Tiffany Trinh, outreach coordinator for the Student Health Advisory Committee. “We’ve presented a plan that can and will work.”

Natanya Miller, senator from the College of Education, said the plan increases the U’s standards and helps create a healthier student body.

Matt Swindel, senator from the College of Architecture, voted against the resolution because he said his constituents do not feel it is right for the school to say a student has to have health insurance.

Associated Students of the University of Utah President Ali Hasnain proposed the resolution to the Senate and Assembly last October after learning the U’s health plan was failing and the provider, GM Southwest, might drop coverage for financial reasons.

Currently, GM Southwest is losing money because most students on the plan buy coverage knowing they will use it.

In November, the Senate and Assembly passed a resolution to further investigate the effects of mandating health insurance. The resolution commissioned a survey to find the demographics of the uninsured, why they don’t have coverage and how much they could spend if necessary.

With discussion of a potential hard-waiver insurance policy, GM Southwest lowered its premium bid 10 percent from current prices. Also, 20 other companies have expressed interest in offering a bid if the U adopted a mandatory policy.

The current resolution would create a new committee where students could appeal the policy after submitting all sources of income and expenses, proving they cannot afford health insurance.

Also, the resolution calls for the creation of a scholarship to help subsidize the cost of health insurance for students who cannot afford it. Students would apply to the student government for coverage.