International Students Deserve Changes to Health Care Requirements

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While Fordham requires all students to be insured before they come to campus, securing health care is easier and cheaper for some students than others. Due to Fordham’s insurance requirements, international students have less flexibility seeking alternative health care plans than domestic students. 

As per Fordham’s newest insurance policy, in order for international students to waive Aetna’s plan, their insurance carrier needs to be compliant with the Affordable Care Act (ACA), meaning that it covers benefits such as emergency visits, hospitalization, ambulatory care and more. One of those standards, however, is that the policy must be financed in the U.S. A non-U.S.-issued health care plan is not financed by the U.S., even though it may be equal to or greater in quality than an ACA-compliant plan.

Previously, international students had been able to achieve equal or better coverage through less expensive venues. The ACA requirement now limits international students’ choices in finding cost-efficient plans. 

Considering we are in the midst of a pandemic, international students need access to quality health care and should not be forced to pay more than they can afford for it. 

Generally, international students are not subject to the ACA since it is a federal law and is therefore not applicable to non-residents. However, Fordham is holding international students up to these standards, even though it is costing them extra money.

In response to Fordham’s new insurance policy, international students started a petition asking for cheaper insurance options and for open communication with the Fordham administration. The petition asks for the removal of the requirement that health insurance is underwritten in the U.S. and urges the university to take a more proactive role in insurance negotiations. Fordham needs to read and address this petition in order to ensure that international students receive health care that is affordable and accessible. 

International students shouldn’t have to overpay for insurance in order to access emergency and often life-saving medical care.

Not only is Fordham’s health insurance a more expensive plan than those at many other colleges, but it also comes with an added $150 administrative fee. These extra expenses are not feasible for international students, who have found more affordable alternative plans that meet all the other requirements Fordham sets except for being ACA-compliant.

International students already pay more for college than most domestic students ever will. The American higher education system is one of the most expensive in the world, and international students don’t receive federal aid, so they can only rely on scholarships to ease the burden of paying close to $80,000 per year. Adding expensive American-financed health insurance on top of these costs creates an extra financial burden, especially when students could pay thousands of dollars less for options financed out of the country with sufficient coverage.  International students should not have to pay any more money than they already do because of the new ACA-compliance requirement, which is not even enforced by all New York colleges.  

International students shouldn’t have to overpay for insurance in order to access emergency and often life-saving medical care. The petition’s demand for “more affordable and comprehensive health insurance” is incredibly fair, considering the fact that we are in the middle of a pandemic. Fordham has a duty to ensure that international students have access to both reasonably priced and effective health care. 

Moreover, since international students can’t default to their parents’ plan like their domestic counterparts, the pool of affordable insurances available to international students at Fordham narrows with every new regulation. The fact that domestic students have more freedom of choice when it comes to waiving their insurance leaves international students at a disadvantage even after the pandemic is over.

Fordham needs to address the petition by international students and adjust health care requirements accordingly. International students should not be left in the dust as Fordham plows forward with its COVID-19 protocols.