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February 01, 2008

California Health's Hidden Costs on Campuses

College students, already absorbing tuition bills that are rising faster than inflation, are increasingly facing hundreds and sometimes thousands of dollars in extra and unexpected health insurance costs and medical bills.

The reason: Most campus health centers have not registered as "in network" for the biggest regional health insurers. That means students covered by their family's plan typically can't get reimbursed for many tests and procedures performed by campus health clinics.

In addition, a growing number of colleges are heavily promoting school-sponsored plans, which range in price from a few hundred dollars at Brigham Young University to as much as $2,500 a year at schools such as Brown University. While some plans are generous, others offer comparatively anemic coverage to the students but healthy profits to either the insurance company or the college. And increasingly, schools are automatically charging students for the campus plan unless they provide proof of other coverage each year. A few colleges are even requiring all students—including those who are already covered—to buy school-sponsored policies. Typically, students can't shop for better deals because the colleges approve only one plan.

The conflict adds up to big bucks, since young people generally spend $2,000 to $3,000 a year on health costs, creating a market worth billions.

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Posted by healthinsurance at February 1, 2008 01:42 PM