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Saturday, September 23, 2023


Officials: Health plan a good fit

The UH student health insurance plan is tailor-made for students’ needs and budgets, officials say.

Some students agree, but others say the price is too high.

Student insurance is an important part of the health care system, said Mary Ann Maher, president of insurance provider Macori Inc.

UH health insurance is designed to compliment the services offered at the University Health Center, and provides Preferred Provider Organization coverage 24 hours a day, worldwide, Maher said.

A PPO plan, like a Health Maintenance Organization plan, has contractual agreements with insurance companies but is more loosely organized than an HMO, according to PPO patients can visit physicians they want, but pay more out-of-pocket expenses visiting an out-of-network doctor.

The UH student health insurance is offered for $840 per academic school year to students enrolled in six or more hours in a semester or three during the summer, Maher said.

"Our plan is much less than most college campuses because a University committee plans the coverage and we realize that we must get the most for our money in regard to students," University Health Center Director Floyd Robinson said.

Geophysics sophomore Michael Sares said his health insurance provider from South Africa provides sufficient coverage for his needs.

"If I didn’t have it through my company, I would (get UH insurance)," he said.

Entrepreneurship and finance senior Maria Martotell said the price was good.

"It sounds like a good price compared to what it costs to get any kind of service at UH," she said. "I mean, compared to parking (at) $200 a year, $800 doesn’t seem that bad. I know individual health care is really expensive if you try to buy it yourself, especially if you really need health coverage."

Macori, Inc., administers health care for other universities, including Texas A’M University, University of Texas and Baylor University, among others.

"Health care is very expensive and often students not insured have to make the decision to leave school in order to pay for the illness they are combating," Robinson said.

Young adults between the ages of 18 and 24 years have the highest risk of being uninsured in Texas, Maher said, citing the Texas Department of Insurance.

Nutrition junior Christine McArthur said she wasn’t aware that UH offered student health insurance, but can’t afford it although it sounded like a good deal.

"I have a doctor at my church that has a private practice that knows my situation," she said. "When I get sick, which is rare, he helps me out."

Geology junior Fritz Holmstrom, who has insurance with his family, said he didn’t think UH insurance was very affordable.

"I wouldn’t (enroll) because I couldn’t pay," he said.

The insurance covers items with co-pay, including X-rays, laboratory and doctor’s fees, for a $10 co-pay. A doctor’s visit costs $15 without insurance. The insurance also covers the Human Papillomavirus vaccine with $25 co-pay, which costs $153 without insurance.

Some services offered by the University Health Center aren’t covered by the insurance, such as allergy injections, regular pap smears, doctor fees, immunizations and over-the-counter medications, according to the benefit booklet available at www.macori .com/States/TX/UHMain.asp.

Robinson said the most common elective treatments they see are students seeking physicals or check-ups to make sure they are healthy. The insurance covers maternity costs and infant health care for 31 days. In-patient mental disorders are covered up to $4,000 a year.

The insurance covers 80 percent for an accident or illness up to $50,000 with a $250 deductible for outpatient treatment per policy year and $150 deductible for inpatient treatment.

Other students said while insurance is good to have, it is too expensive to afford.

"It’s a lot of money," finance junior Yousef El-Amadi said. "I still say it’s expensive because we are students."

The policy year for the UH insurance plan ends Aug. 19, even if a student graduates in May, according to Macori, Inc.’s Web site. Students seeking coverage after summer or who want to re-enroll must do so by May 29.

Other benefits of the plan include a $500 allowance for prescriptions and possible patient assistance programs, according to the booklet.

Chief Pharmacist Kizzy Steward-Judie handles student insurance plans at the UH Health Center. Students who enroll in the plan get a $500 allowance for medication. If students use their allowance before the one-year plan ends, they might have the option to enroll in patient assistance programs, Steward-Judie said.

"The $500 allowance captures a full year’s time, (for example,) August to August," Steward-Judie said.

Insured students provide co-pay and then the student insurance pays the remaining amount, according to the benefit booklet.

"If the cost of (medicine) is $125 and their co-pay was $25, the $100 goes into the allowance," Steward-Judie said.

The medication co-pay is a set price depending on whether it is a name brand or a generic brand.

"Students would have a co-pay of $25 if a brand medication, generic is $15," Steward-Judie said. "(Medicine) less than $15 dollars they just pay outright."

Students pay for medications that have a minimal cost of $25 or under, such as antibiotics. Since the student covers the cost, nothing would come out of the allowance.

Students get a month’s supply of medication at a time and if the allotment runs out before the year ends, they can qualify for patients assistance programs.

"If students’ $500 max is reached sooner, there are options in patients assistance programs where they can get some (medicine) at a discounted price or even free. Stipulations involve no generics. (The program) doesn’t involve our pharmacy, it is set up with the drug manufacturer," Steward-Judie said.

Students have until the 20th day of class in the spring and fall semesters to enroll in the plan, according to the UH Web site. During summer sessions, the deadline is the 12th day of class.

For more information or to sign up, students can visit the Student Health Insurance office in the University Health Center. For more information, call (713) 743-5137 or visit the student health insurance Web site at

Additional reporting by Bayan Raji

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