The University of Maryland Graduate Student Government unanimously supports adding a health insurance waiver requirement for graduate students, GSG President Joey Haavik shared at the group’s Friday meeting.
GSG members voted after the assembly’s meeting last month when University Health Center director Spiro Marinopoulos spoke about possible cost increases to the student health insurance plan.
Aetna, the company offering the student plan, is proposing a 10.8 percent increase in the plan’s annual premium for the next academic year, which would change the current rate of $2,334 to $2,585.
Currently, graduate students are a voluntary group of the plan, meaning they can enroll by choice, while undergraduates are automatically enrolled and must waive out of the plan to unenroll. The voluntary group has 1.7 times the claims of the hard waiver group, Marinopoulos said.
The health center director said that requiring the hard waiver process for both groups of students would lower the premium rate to a projected cost of $2,420.
Haavik said this is one of the best options, as it equalizes the insurance risk between both groups and guarantees that graduate students are insured.
“I’m really impressed with the administration that communication is key here to make sure that everyone understands this change,” Haavik said.
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The hard waiver process would not affect graduate assistants who are covered by the employee insurance plan.
While Marinopoulos is part of the decision making process, university leadership will make the ultimate decision on what the student plan will look like.
“The reason that I am here discussing this with you is that we do very much value your opinion about how we should approach it,” Marinopoulos said at the March GSG meeting.
On Friday, the GSG also discussed issues relating to international students. The vice president of the international affairs office agreed to form an international student dean’s advisory board to decide how to utilize the international student fee, according to Haavik.
The applied economics program representative, Shabab Mirza, said that there should be more student development support for international students because the International Student and Scholar Services office is not equipped with handling many issues besides legal concerns.
“It needs to be recognized that there are certain legal and policy needs the ISSS Office provides, and that is essential,” Mirza said. “There are many other areas in which they do not have expertise around things like student life and housing.”
The assembly is also working to create an international student support guide to answer questions for those arriving on campus from abroad.