The pros and cons of the student health and dental plan

(File photo).

Each year as students scan down the list of fees on their fall invoice, they come across something that they can actually opt-out of paying. The health and dental plan, which is offered to students by Wilfrid Laurier University Students Union, offers students the choice to opt-out if they have  alternate health care.

However, many of the students who decide not to opt-out are unaware of what the plan actually entails. Under Laurier’s plan, students are provided with health coverage, some dental and vision coverage as well as travel and accidental coverage.

“I feel that there’s something for everyone,” said Kelly Lee, member benefits and service manager at WLUSU. “If a student is looking to use the plan, or maybe not even interested in the plan, they can still benefit by using the $80 of vision care. That’s one exam a year.”

Students pay $106.81 for health coverage and $100.25 for dental. Kyle Walker, director of member services at WLUSU, added, “The industry average of someone who went out to a private insurance company and wanted to get coverage like this is $1,500, and we offer it at just $200.”

This past September, however, a few changes were made to the plan.

“We’ve gone to a consumer driven model,” said Lee,” which means that we’re asking students to be consumers of their health plan and decide which option works best for them.”

One facet of this is the addition of a Direct2U prescription delivery system, which helps to keep costs low. With Direct2U students use Alliance pharmacy and receive a package overnight from FedEx. However, students still have the option to have their prescriptions filled right at the pharmacy.

“There are also a larger number of prescriptions on the plan this year, which is a significant benefit to students,” added Lee.

Brianna Burd, a fourth-year student, expressed her displeasure with the plan because contraceptives are not included.

“I think that in university that’s something that they always try to talk about: safe sex,” she said. “I think it’s pretty off that they don’t offer it.”

“The reason birth control isn’t on our plan is because it’s offered to students at a cost recovery basis from health services,” Lee explained.

According to Lee, packaged pills can be purchased at the pharmacy for around $21 and is offered for around $7 at health services.

“To add [birth control] to our plan when we already have a demographic of, say, 75 per cent females and 25 per cent males at Laurier wouldn’t be an equitable plan,” she continued. “We’d be making men pay for birth control when it is so readily available at a reduced rate here on campus.”

Burd also voiced her opposition to the opt-out regulations. Since she doesn’t have an alternate plan, she was unable to opt-out of Laurier’s.

“I just feel like it’s not very beneficial,” she said. “I’m not able to opt-out but I’m also not using it.”

According to Lee and Walker, because the student referendum voted to support the health and dental plan, it is a fee of the university and therefore students are required to pay it. Walker doesn’t believe that the university will ever allow students to opt-out without proof of alternate coverage.

“It’s a health and safety thing too,” he said. “If we have students getting ill or hurting themselves and they have no coverage and they can’t go anywhere.”

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