St. Thomas health insurance covering 200 more students

The health insurance that St. Thomas offers its students is covering 200 more students this year.

The St. Thomas student health insurance covered about 700 students last year. About 900 students are currently covered this year, said Madonna McDermott, director of Student Health Services and Wellness Center.

One reason the number of those insured has gone up this year is that some parents of St. Thomas students have lost jobs and need health insurance for their children, McDermott said. She said the other reason is because it is a good health insurance plan and a reasonable price.

“The price is very comparable,” she said. “The difference is the plan itself. Our plan is very rich.”

St. Thomas’ health insurance plan costs $429 per semester, about $20 to $30 cheaper than it was last year. It is cheaper because St. Thomas has switched its health insurance provider to Aetna, McDermott said.

“Aetna Student Health is a national brand and a nationally known company,” McDermott said. “But their student health is a separate entity under Aetna, so it looks different in many ways than their other health insurance.”

St. Thomas health providers wanted a comprehensive package that was similar to employee insurance plans, she said.

What St. Thomas insurance offers

According to information from Student Health Services, students covered by the Aetna Student Health will receive:

  • No deductible
  • $1,000,000 lifetime maximum
  • $5,000 per policy year out of pocket limit
  • Prescription benefit
  • 90 percent coverage within preferred provider network; 60 percent in the non-preferred provider network

McDermott said the 2009-2010 Student Health Insurance Plan offers dental coverage and an option to continue health insurance coverage for six months after graduation, which was not offered last year.

“If my parents lost their jobs, I would be on St. Thomas health insurance,” junior John Olin said. “It’s cheaper than other health insurances. I’m a college student, and I need to pay less for insurance.”

While the cost of the St. Thomas’ student health insurance has decreased from last year, most other ACTC colleges have increased health insurance costs.

“We looked at what the market was offering and made sure we were well below that,” McDermott said. “If you look at Blues Plus, which is probably what students would get if they didn’t get this plan, they would have to come up with a $5,000 deductible, which is more than our plan, but a comparable coverage.”

Student opinions about St. Thomas insurance

Some students said the new health plan is a good one.

“I think it is very convenient,” junior Kerstin Johnson said. “It’s already on campus and cheaper.”

But junior Jenna Ewing disagrees.

“I don’t think health insurance coverage should be mandated,” Ewing said.

The American College Health Association has guidelines recommending all colleges implement some sort of mandatory insurance. Eighty to 90 percent of all private colleges require students to have health insurance. This keeps the cost down for all students to have access to quality health care coverage, McDermott said.

“As a provider it is difficult when you are seeing a student with abdominal pain,” McDermott said. “You [the provider] want them [the patient] to have a CAT scan, and they say they don’t have insurance. You then have to decide if they can wait another day without treatment.”

Rebekah Frank can be reached at