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The Daily Utah Chronicle

The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

The Daily Utah Chronicle

The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

The Daily Utah Chronicle

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Married student health insurance not affordable

By Jeffrey Jenkins

The ever-increasing cost of health care and health insurance is still plaguing the United States. According to the National Coalition on Health Care nearly 47 million Americans were uninsured in 2005. The coalition also reported $2.3 trillion was spent on health care in 2007, while the California Health Care Foundation reported the annual amount spent on health care is 4.3 times the amount spent on national defense. A national survey done by the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation in September 2006 reported the primary reason people remain uninsured is the rising cost, making it difficult for companies to provide coverage.
Ironically, the high cost of health insurance is correlated with the low number of individuals and families without coverage, according to an economic study done by the Kaiser Family Foundation.

The 2007 U.S. Census reported 29 percent of people ages 18 to 24 were uninsured.

Recently, an initiative on health insurance took place at the White House. During the meeting, it was reported that the average monthly cost of health insurance is $425.83.

The U provides an option for students to purchase health insurance from GM-Southwest, a provider that specializes in student insurance plans. A single student purchasing health insurance for Fall Semester 2008 would pay $555 for the semester, which is about four months of coverage. This averages out to be $140 per month, which is well below the national average monthly cost. However, if a married student were to add a spouse as a secondary, the cost per semester rises to $2,156, an average monthly cost of $539, which is above the national average and equals nearly $6,500 per year. The U presents a great opportunity for affordable health insurance for single students, but the unusually high costs of coverage has left married students in a powerless position.

The attempt of the U to make health insurance affordable for students only succeeds in making it affordable for one specific clientele: single students no longer insured by their parents or through an employer. Students who also extend coverage to their dependents are left with a subsidized insurance program that only backs the single student. It puts extra strain on students who need health insurance by forcing them to work full time to get coverage through an employer and go to school part time, or to take the risk of not having coverage. For students with children, neither of these options are sufficient.

The U should consider a contingency carrier to lower the cost for married students, or reform the current coverage plan agreed upon with GM-Southwest. A change of this nature would benefit many students by allowing them to put their education first while their spouse or family is covered behind them.

[email protected]

Kevin Merriman

Jeffrey Jenkins

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