Graduate students concerned about fitness benefits in upcoming health plan

The University of Minnesota’s Graduate Assistant Health Plan is slated to modify insurance coverage suppliers subsequent September, a transfer that can provide students a broader community of providers. However, some graduate students are concerned about modifications to their fitness benefits. 

The present insurance coverage supplier, HealthCompanions, gives a Frequent Fitness program that reimburses the consumer $20 every month they go to the health club 12 or extra occasions. But with the swap to a brand new supplier, Blue Cross Blue Shield, that program will probably be discontinued. 

After a sure level in their packages, many graduate students don’t pay the Student Services Fees that grant them entry to the University’s Recreation and Wellness Center. This leads many graduate students to depend on the fitness program. 

Sean Chen, president of the Council of Graduate Students, has heard considerations from graduate students about the swap.

“I think it gives you incentive to go to the gym. It’s good for mental health. It’s good for your physical health,” Chen stated. “Many of the people I know use it as well. And it can amount to $240 a year if you go frequently every month.”

Every six years, the Office of Student Health Benefits, which oversees health insurance coverage for the coed physique, goes by a bidding course of for health insurance coverage suppliers. HealthCompanions’ bid was excessive in comparison with Blue Cross Blue Shield’s bid, stated Susann Jackson, the executive director for the OSHB.

“I don’t think it makes sense to reduce the quality of health care when we shift from one insurer to a different one,” Chen stated. “I think their intention is good. But we want to make sure we don’t lose some of the benefits when we’re shifting.”

The committee evaluating bids selected Blue Cross Blue Shield due to the price and community of care suppliers provided in 160 international locations, Jackson stated.

“The thing that is going to benefit students significantly is that provider network,” Jackson stated. “Because we had significant cost savings on this bid, over the next six years those cost savings roll forward for administrative costs. And those savings that we made on this process carry forward not just for the University, but for the students.”

Council of Graduate Students President Sean Chen works out on the University Recreation and Wellness Center on Monday, April 29.

The price of protection will enhance, she stated, however not as a lot as if that they had stayed with HealthCompanions.  

“We were glad to see, although still concerned, that there were only 200 students that are going to be disrupted that are using the Frequent Fitness program,” Jackson stated. “We’re just still exploring to see if other options can be [made] available for those 200 students.”

Negotiations have ended with Blue Cross Blue Shield, and OSHB is in the implementation and communication course of proper now, Jackson stated. More particular data on the brand new health insurance coverage plan will probably be obtainable in June, she added.

“We measure the disruption that our students might encounter, and we felt that would be minimal, very minimal — if at all,” Jackson stated. “Students do know that the changes are coming.”

But graduate scholar Timothy Monko stated he didn’t know the change in health insurance coverage was taking place, or that the fitness program can be affected. 

Monko goes to a climbing health club, which he stated makes him really feel higher bodily, extra productive and fewer fatigued. He stated he’s concerned that his specialty health club wouldn’t be included in the brand new plan.

Greg Thurston, the incoming administrative director for OSHB, stated the brand new program will embrace discounted health club memberships at choose gyms.

“Everybody does have or will have that discounted or low-cost alternative at select fitness centers, it just may not be the one that they’re currently at,” Thurston stated.

Graduate scholar D’anna Nelson, who makes use of the Frequent Fitness program, stated she thinks this isn’t a giant concern for OSHB. This program is the rationale she will be able to afford to pay for a health club membership.

“I’ve heard a lot of things that the University has said that they haven’t followed through on,” Nelson stated. “I’m in more of a position of I’ll believe it when I see it.”

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