Campus resources. Assess the image, scope, capability,
and accessibility of campus health, counseling, and psychological services to understand the likely use by students and the
potential needs of community providers. Also consider
whether or not behavioral health care provided on campus is
billable to the university-sponsored insurance plan.
Plan history. Complement the campus care assessment
with a request to the university-endorsed insurance carrier for
distribution models illustrating the numbers of students who
exhausted visit and dollar maximums.
Panel affiliations. Consider the percentage of community
behavioral health care providers affiliated with your university-endorsed plan. The more robust the network of providers
agreeing to contracted rates, the more likely it is students will
maximize the plan benefits and reduce out-of-pocket costs.
Plan sophistication/other resources. Some institutions
may partner with sponsored carriers to offer emerging,
commercially available products and services to better complement campus care and help ensure student support. Those
services may include automated disease-management
programs that analyze student health and counseling provider
encounter data together with community provider data;
24-hour student assistance programs; and specialty pharmacy
benefits designed to maximize benefits programs for the
A Positive Impact on Access
While institutions have the ability to control benefits for those
electing university-sponsored plans, they have little or no
control over the adequacy of family or individual plans that
the vast majority of students carry with them to campus.
With the increasing popularity of consumer-directed health
plans, many of which carry annual deductibles ranging
between $1,500 and $5,000, it is more important than ever
for students and parents to consider the true cost—premium
and out-of-pocket expenses—of a family plan versus the
university-sponsored plan. They must also carefully consider
potential limitations of family and individual plans for care,
other than emergency treatment, if the student lives far
The nation will continue to focus on health care access,
affordability, and quality in the months leading up to this
fall’s general election. University administrators can have
a positive impact on access for the nation’s students by
attempting to customize student health insurance and benefits
programs to complement campus resources. Understanding
the true costs associated with university-sponsored programs
and how plan design affects students is paramount to that
Brian St. Hilaire is senior director of market relations for Aetna Student
Health based in Cambridge, Mass., where he manages business development activities and client and producer relations, as well as the company’s
quarterly publication, Student Health Spectrum.
NASPA and AAUW thank the following organizations
for their generous support of the
2008 National Conference for College Women Student Leaders.