Ellie Handler

Despite a constantly shifting national health care landscape, undergraduate student enrollment in the Yale Health Plan Hospitalization and Specialty Care coverage has held steady, with more than half the student body electing to waive the University’s specialty health insurance.

According to Director of Yale Health Paul Genecin, several changes were made over the past several years to the Yale Health Plan to comply with the Affordable Care Act, which was signed into law in March 2010. The University’s former insurance plan, which covered both hospitalization and specialist care, was merged with Yale Health’s prescription plan, which was formerly an optional rider. In addition, the student plan now includes free generic contraceptives as well as free immunization, as per the specifications of the ACA. Still, because of the prior comprehensiveness of the Yale Health Plan, these changes have had no major effects on student coverage, Genecin explained.

Approximately 45 percent of Yale undergraduates are enrolled in Yale’s specialty coverage, Genecin said, adding that this figure has been stable in recent years.

Yale Health has also removed the dollar limit on covered durable medical equipment, increased outpatient mental health services for children of students and adjusted its inpatient mental health benefit in accordance with the legislation.

Genecin said there has been no incremental cost to students because the full health plan is priced in order to ensure affordability.

Yale Health has also submitted documentation to the Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services to check that its health insurance constitutes minimum essential coverage and will not result in penalization by the government, Genecin said.

Yale Health does not record the demographic information of students who enroll in its healthcare plan, although international students interviewed noted the relative convenience of taking out the University’s health care policy rather than searching for a private provider in the United States.

Yuki Hayashi ’17, president of the Yale International Students’ Organization, said she could not think of any international students who were not on the Yale Health Plan.

“Oftentimes the plan [international students] are [on before college] only covers their own country,” Hayashi said. “They don’t have a reason to waive [the Yale Health Plan].”

Hayashi added that, after talking about the University’s special coverage insurance with international upperclassmen, she felt safer enrolling in the Yale Health Plan than searching for an alternative private insurer in the United States.

Nasim Mirzajani ’18, who lives in Dubai, also cited the inconvenience of searching for a U.S. healthcare plan other than Yale’s.

“As an international student, I wouldn’t have had insurance in the U.S.,” she said. “If it wasn’t for Yale’s health insurance plan, getting insurance would have been an added tedious task added to everything else I had to do before I could study here.”

Other students said they waived the special coverage insurance because they were already covered by another health care plan prior to coming to college.

Marcie Tran ’17 said that opting for her family’s health care plan over Yale’s full coverage saves her approximately $2,100 annually.

“I waived Yale health insurance, because I have insurance through my Dad’s work,” Avery Thompson ’17 said.

According to the United States Government Accountability Office, approximately 80 percent of college students in the U.S. aged 18 through 23 had health insurance in 2006.