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The Right Rx for an Ailing Student Health Program

The Right Rx for an Ailing Student Health Program

The Client

A state university campus with a student population of more than 13,000—almost 10 percent (1,250) of whom are international students.

The Challenge

International students were required to either participate in the university-sponsored health insurance program or waive coverage by providing evidence they had purchased it individually, setting up an all-around undesirable scenario:

  • The budget-strapped students shopped for individual policies solely on price—buying into plans with limited coverage, narrow provider networks, and high deductibles and co-pays (hidden costs), which most of them couldn’t afford.
  • School officials were bogged down with the labor-intensive administrative process of verifying and legitimizing the external policies when students waived.
  • The university’s plan had exceptionally low participation and a major problem with adverse selection—only the sickest students were enrolling. Consequently, it was unattractive to most insurers. The few who quoted did so at an above-market price, making it even more undesirable for students.

The Solution

The status quo was not working and the program was cratering. We took a three-pronged approach to remedy the situation:

  • We secured an agreement between the risk-management, finance, and international departments to make the university-sponsored program mandatory for new students.
  • The dramatically increased participation rates led to a much larger and more diverse pool of students (healthy and otherwise) which we leveraged for more competitive pricing. We adjusted the benefits to follow the low-deductible, low-coinsurance, large-network model we’ve found works best for this population.
  • We transitioned the university to our customizable, state-of-the-art online enrollment and administrative platform which dramatically streamlined program management for the school officials. The process was managed closely so that introduction of the program ran as smoothly as possible from day one.

The Results

More than 85 percent of the international students (1,100 out of 1,250) are now enrolled in the university-sponsored health insurance program, which offers more competitive pricing and broader coverage than the individual plans. All constituencies within the university administration are thrilled with the dramatic improvements in the plan design and the online enrollment and waiver platform gives the risk-management department the necessary visibility into the program to be able to track program performance in real time.