Fordham Health Insurance Made Available to Grads


Published: April 2, 2009

In response to the current economic climate, Fordham is taking steps to ensure that students will have access to affordable health insurance—not just when enrolled in the university, but after graduation, as well.

The latest reports from the Census Bureau, from 2007, say that 13.2 million young adults ages 19-29, 29 percent, make up the largest group of uninsured people in the U.S.

Gregory Pappas, assistant vice president for student affairs, said, “In response to the economic downturn, [Fordham is working] to give [students] the option of procuring health coverage after they graduate. They will have the option of buying this plan for up to 24 months after graduation.”

Pappas said that the plan to extend benefits to recent alumni is “unique to Fordham” and that other schools are not taking the same actions.

“We are one of the leaders in doing this… Everyone that we’ve spoken with has applauded us… This is a great vehicle to help people that are in need of help,” he said.

Pappas proposed the plan in the fall after seeing students have “more and more difficulty” obtaining jobs. The plan, currently in its final stages of approval and implementation, will only be available to students graduating in the spring of 2009 and beyond.

“This is the only population we can offer [the plan] to,” Pappas said.

Fordham’s present health insurance plan is offered to anybody connected to Fordham, whether staff or student enrolled full-time or part-time, graduate or undergraduate, according to Kathleen Malara, director of student health services. This is the same plan that will be made available to graduates.

Malara said, “It’s basically a plan to cover unexpected emergency-type stuff. It’s not really a plan designed [for specialists].” She called it a “very basic plan” and said it costs the student about $1,300.

Pappas said, “It’s not the most comprehensive plan, but it’s a plan that has a good amount of benefit options.”

For those who are ineligible for Fordham’s new plan by virtue of having already graduated, both students and administration have hopes that the government will also step up to the plate.

“It’s a system that’s in need of repair. The whole system has become unaffordable for the average American,” Pappas said. “Hopefully our new president will work out a plan that will offer affordability and good coverage to the average American whether they’re employed or not.”

Jes Campbell, FCLC ’08, expressed a desire to see government action, as well.

“Especially in our current economic and employment climate, I think that a government-based fund should be made available, where recent college graduates can buy into this special medical insurance plan until they find a job with benefits,” she said.

David Patterson, governor of New York, is working on a plan to allow parents to claim children as dependents on their insurance until the age of 29—something that many other states have already enacted. This helps some, but not everybody has the luxury of parental support.

Sarah Devine, FCLC ’09, said that she is going straight to graduate school after graduation and therefore will still be covered by her mother’s insurance.

“I think if I had been considering time off the questions of health insurance would definitely be a factor in what I ended up doing,” she said.

Samuel Wong, FCLC ’09, said that he is also going right to graduate school next year but still has concerns about health coverage.

“I’m not going to call for a government overhaul of medical insurance, but health insurance companies should continue to provide coverage until the student gets a job. In other words, when I graduate this May and attend graduate school, they should continue to provide coverage,” he said. “Otherwise… especially during this recession, many young adults [would]…rather be sick than pay for the costs of medical care.”

Kelley Mowatt, FCLC ’09, said that she feels Fordham should do more to inform students about their options concerning health care once they are no longer in school.

“Fordham should show what is a good plan versus a bad plan,” she said.

Campbell ceased to be a full-time student when she graduated in December 2008 and was therefore ineligible for her father’s insurance as of Jan. 1. Campbell said that she was “fortunate enough to find a job which offers full medical benefits and a dental plan.” She suggested that setting up a booth on the Plaza to give students information about insurance coverage might be beneficial.

Wong and Mowatt both suggested that Fordham provide a workshop for seniors in order to educate them about health coverage from insurance companies. Wong said, “The company representatives could provide us with some of their experiences and advice in this hard economic climate.”

Pappas advised students who are purchasing coverage on their own to buy the least expensive catastrophic plan they can find.

“Get a plan… where if something really bad happened, the coverage is going to be there, but you’re not going to be paying a higher premium for things you won’t be using,” he said

Malara advises students and alums to “get creative and look for clinics that offer sliding scale care. A lot of clinics do, especially when they are funded by the state.” However, she said, “you might come at 8 o’clock in the morning and not be seen until 3 o’clock in the afternoon. But you’re getting health care.”

Pappas said that these issues are not unique to Fordham graduates. “This is a big problem,” he said. “It’s a problem for everybody.”