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Graduate Student Senate discusses potential increases in student health insurance rates

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GSS also enacted a resolution to advocate for the Green Dot Bystander Intervention Program.

Graduate Student Senate discussed possible upcoming increases in student health insurance premium rates Tuesday at their general body meeting.

Dale Burns, the Senior Vice President of United Healthcare Student Resources, and Anna Casteel, the Student Health Administrator at Ohio University, gave a presentation to GSS about some of the research they conducted, justifying the rise in rates and explaining alternative options that would aim to curb some of the increase.

At 35 percent, the increase in premium rates would be historic — rates for student health insurance at Ohio U have never gone up by that much at once before.

The university has multiple options to lower the increase in premium rates. Under the proposal set forth by Burns and Casteel, the annual deductible for students could increase from $150 to $500. Additionally, the out-of-pocket maximum for students could increase from $1,500 per year to around $5,000 per year.

Casteel advocated for the increase in the out-of-pocket maximum, citing that a very small percentage of students actually meet the limit in a given year.

“If 99 and a half percent of our insurers don’t meet the $1,500, they’re not going to meet $5,000,” Casteel said. “Why not increase that so we can lower the amount you have to pay to have the insurance? We want to impact the least amount of students with more expenses.”

One of the problems Burns and Casteel cited during the presentation was that the insurance company is required to cover every student at the university that is taking at least one credit hour.

While they don’t want to target students who are actually seeking degrees, they have seen a trend in some students paying for an online class at a regional campus just to utilize student insurance. Burns also discussed the possibility of requirements on credit hours for eligibility for student insurance.

GSS also enacted a resolution to recommend the Green Dot Bystander Intervention Program to university administration in the body’s continuing effort to address sexual assault issues on campus. Green Dot is a bystander intervention program with a top-down model, focusing largely on training faculty and staff to teach bystander intervention skills.

The university currently has the largely student-led Better Bystanders intervention program in place. If the Green Dot program were to be implemented, more faculty, staff, and administration would be involved in bystander education, according to the resolution.

Several other universities in Ohio, including Kent State University and the University of Dayton, have implemented the Green Dot program in recent years.

“There are translational benefits of this program,” GSS President Maria Modayil said. “While the major target is sexual assault, and that’s why the program was put in place, it can combat other issues in changing culture around campus.”

The program would require an investment on the university’s part. Ohio U looked at the Green Dot program in the past, but decided not to implement it.

In other business:

  • The body enacted a resolution granting funding for a program within the School of Art and Design.
  • The body discussed amendments to the GSS Constitution.
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