Does Your Insurance Cover You?

What College Students Don’t Know About Health Coverage


Published: December 13, 2007

When asked if they currently adhere to any particular sort of health insurance policy, several Fordham students who were gathered outside of McMahon Hall all replied with an immediate and presumptuous yes. “All Fordham students have to have health insurance,” one of the individuals informed me, as if this was actually the case. Her companions were all in accordance with this erroneous assumption.

Despite what many individuals may presume, most Fordham students, aside from those who are international students, are, in actuality, not mandated to enroll in a health insurance program, although they are strongly encouraged to do so by the university.  International students are the only individuals obligated to have medical and hospitalization insurance. In fact, many self-insured students remain categorically unaware of the specific coverage in which they are allotted through their particular policies. For that matter, one could reason that most college students currently lack adequate and proper coverage in the event of a medical emergency, resulting in tremendous costs for students and their families. A growing number of individuals, myself included, currently attend a college or university without any sort of health insurance. A 2004 article published by BNET, a business news organization, reported that roughly one in four of all American college students are either underinsured or do not possess any insurance whatsoever.

Within the landscape of a major world nation such as the United States, this is simply unacceptable. More and more college students each and every year are forced to leave school because of their medical bills without the possibility of ever returning to finish their education.  If an unexpected crisis did arise, there are significant grounds to conclude that many Fordham students, even if insured, could not handle the costs of medical attention. Revisions from campus officials must be set in place in order to ensure proper coverage for all students.

Consider the astonishingly nominal health insurance program offered through the university at present. Many students churn out roughly a thousand dollars each year for this policy. According to the 2007-2008 Student Accident & Sickness Brochure, only a very limited amount of protection is offered through the plan, even when selecting the premium coverage.

The Fordham insurance policy “does NOT provide basic hospital, basic medical [or] major medical insurance,” according to the brochure. A student’s trip to the emergency room is not covered through this Fordham health insurance, leaving the student to pay for all bills acquired there, which could potentially cost thousands of dollars. If you are a student who is enrolled in this program, you should consider yourself to be highly underinsured and susceptible to astronomical medical bills if faced with a trip to the hospital.

And then there are those who are fortunate enough to still rely upon their parents for insurance. Due to the fact that his father is a New York State school teacher, coupled with the fact that he is a full time undergrad, Chris Cuoccio, FCLC ’09, still falls under his family’s medical plan, although this will cease once he graduates. Initially unaware of the specifics regarding the health insurance offered by Fordham, Cuoccio expressed his concerns for those students who have purchased this policy. “To me, this insurance wouldn’t be worth purchasing,” he said. “It seems like this insurance covers basically nothing. I would rather save the money and use it for other expenses.” And although comfortable with his position now, Cuoccio, as with many who are still reliant upon their parents’ family plan, contemplates what will happen after he completes his bachelor’s degree.

College expenses continue to soar at unprecedented levels, and students are now faced with the predicament of finding health care at a reasonable cost. With the existing state of our nation’s economy and job market, one can only fathom what, if any, financially reasonable policies await us upon graduation.

That proverbial cat is out of the bag; one need not turn to Michael Moore’s latest expose, “Sicko,” or the recent Republican and Democratic presidential debates in order to ascertain that a prevailing corruption permeates throughout the U.S. health care system. As is the case with other variable and subjective red button issues, ranging from abortion, illegal immigration and gun control, universal health care is unilaterally disputed amidst the American landscape. Health care for students, however, often lies under the radar of attention from the media and politicians. It is now time for individual universities to take a central role in determining the future of the insurance in which they offer.

Fordham administrators must reassess and carefully analyze its health care policies as the university must consider updating such a fallacious program, as inflation and an increasingly decrepit system of health care pervade the United States. The university must also take a greater step in educating its students on such an issue, either through courses or speakers. At the current rate, only the upper echelons of our society will be able to exclusively afford health care. The middle and lower classes cannot possibly keep up with the escalating costs involved in staying healthy. The future well-being of the Fordham community is at stake here.