Campus / News / May 4, 2011

Knox’s health care plan reaches out to students

Although President Barack Obama’s position relative to health care as a necessity for all Americans is widely known, the ramifications of the Affordable Care Act and general coverage information should be made clear to all students. For Knox students, coverage is available from the college.

According to freshman Gabrielle Rajerison, “I know that there are two health plans. I received information about health care options in the mail and through the Health Center, but I don’t know much about the details of the Knox Health Plan.” Rajerison is not alone in feeling uninformed about how the Knox Health Plan operates to improve student life on campus.

“I’ve never had to go to the Health Center, so I really don’t know that much about the services it offers, or about the Knox Health Plan in general,” sophomore Alison Gaines said.

Student Health Services Coordinator Melanie Lowe explained, “We have a summer mailing that goes out to all new students in mid-June that consists of an insurance brochure, a Health Services brochure, an Insurance Waiver card and an Emergency Medical History form. In addition, first-year students receive two mailings in the middle of May: the ‘Ask Knox Letter’ and ‘Life Knox Letter.’”

Lowe also mentioned that additional brochures and forms are available in her office and in the Knox College Health Center. The Knox College website details insurance plans available to students as well.

Knox Health Plan information is certainly accessible to students. However the specifics of the plan do not necessarily constitute common knowledge for students, perhaps because they think that the terms of the plan are subject to change with the Affordable Care Act. Yet according to Lowe, “Our insurance company fortunately locked in its rates for this year. Next year with rate changes, we hope to increase coverage.”

While insurance rates are vulnerable to change, the Knox Health Plan has been in place even before Lowe began her position as Student Health Services Coordinator.

Although not all Knox students are currently insured by the Knox Health Plan, Lowe explained that, “Students are required to provide a plan of primary insurance, and if they are not able to, they must use Plan A,” which is outlined in the “Accident and Sickness Insurance Plan” brochure mailed to students. Knox Health Plan A provides basic benefits, whereas Plan B is available for “students desiring increased benefits,” according to the brochure.

In a nation where “some insurance plans do not carry from state to state,” as Lowe described, it is important for students to be able to embrace a health insurance plan that fully satisfies their needs.

“We want to see what students think. We want to know if students want more benefits in a prescription plan, and we want to make sure that students are adequately covered if they get hurt and acquire medical expenses,” Lowe said.

Upon reviewing the details of the Knox Health Plan, some students expressed contentment with its terms, while others readily posed suggestions about coverage.

According to sophomore Christy Dye, “The annual cost seems to be not too bad. Giving options to students within the Knox Health Plan is good in general.”

Gaines said, “It’s great that counseling is free.”

Even though Rajerison is generally satisfied with the Knox Health Plan, she said, “Not covering pre-existing conditions after two years seems arbitrary.”

In the second 2008 presidential debate between Obama and McCain, Obama said, “In a country as wealthy as ours, for us to have people who are going bankrupt because they can’t pay their medical bills [is] fundamentally wrong.” While the Knox Health Plan has been relatively stable in the past, it is imperative that students stay informed about their health care plan so that they can better react to changes brought about by the Affordable Care Act. Without student input, positive change cannot be made to the Knox Health Plan during a time in which health insurance is undergoing radical change in America.

Elise Hyser

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