Studentcare under the microscope
author: ethan williams | staff writer
Is it worth it?
It’s no surprise that some university students spend copious amounts of cash a year to ensure they have coverage for their medical expenses, including costs from dental and vision care, to medical emergencies, but it’s also no surprise that there are multiple options out there for students to choose in terms of which insurance company will cover them for these various costs.
Studentcare, a student insurance company that partners with multiple post-secondary institutions, claims to have “over 2,500 professionals across Canada” and has partnerships with over 40 universities. Many have wondered what exactly is covered in the plan, and if the plans are even worth it at all.
According to Studentcare, the U of R’s plan costs around $205 per policy year (Sept. 1 to Aug. 31). The question is, what exactly are students getting for their buck?
Studentcare’s website explains that there are three main aspects that are covered in their plan: Health, dental, and vision care.
Under the health subsection, highlights include coverage of up to 80 per cent of the cost of prescription medication, full coverage of medical equipment usage such as crutches and wheelchairs, and full coverage for accidents and ambulance transportation.
Dental coverage provides $750 per year for visits to the dentist, and full coverage for repair and/or replacement of “sound natural teeth damages through an external accidental blow to the mouth” which includes implants.
Finally, vision care coverage includes $50 per two years for eye exams, and $150 per year for costs amounted from laser eye surgery.
As for glasses? The plan covers $100 per two years for replacements or contacts.
Studentcare also lists price comparisons with other insurance plans, however won’t comment on which insurance companies were included in the research.
Employee plans are priced at $619.44, and Private plans at $906.00. A disclaimer on their website reads in part that the data was from research that was done by the company itself and that it is an average cost of other plans similar to theirs.
The other plans that exist in Saskatchewan include Saskatchewan Blue Cross. In an email to the Carillon, the insurance company provided information on their Blue Choice health insurance plan. Included in their email, the company notes that it doesn’t have a specific plan for students, however states that the premium for health, dental, and prescription drug coverage in the Blue Choice plan for a person under 34 years old is $464.40 per year, which is less than the average listed on the Studentcare website.
As for what’s included in policy, many of the same elements and coverage aspects as Studentcare’s plan are included in the plan.
Core health benefits include coverage for ambulance rides, casts and crutches, and massage therapy.
Blue Cross’s dental coverage runs on a year-to-year basis. The package states that there is a six-month waiting period, and then the first year of the plan commences. Included in the first year is 75 per cent of basic services up to $500. The second year increases to 80 per cent plus 50 per cent of “major services” up to $750. Finally, the third year and each year afterward includes the same percentage amount covered, and then up to $1,000 per year.
URSU VP Finance and Operations, Derrick Gagnon, says that the Studentcare plan is one that adequately meets students’ needs.
“The URSU plan covers equally, and in some cases, more than other private brokers at a cheaper cost to our students.” Gagnon went on to list some of the package highlights, including those listed in the dental plan. “It is definitely worth the $205.00.”
Gagnon says URSU execs review the plan each year to ensure it meets everyone’s needs. When asked if anything could be improved upon, Gagnon said he hoped people would come forward with their opinions.
“I would like to hear from students on what they think should be covered in their plan.”
But the U of R isn’t the only post-secondary institution in Canada that partners with Studentcare. Various colleges and universities offer plans to students as well. So how does the U of R stack up against other schools? Three institutions across the country were compared with the U of R plan.
The University of Waterloo undergraduate plan totaled $300. So what’s different between it and the U of R’s? Not much, except for two additions: the Waterloo healthcare plan includes access to a homecare nurse in the event an injury or illness leaves a student bedridden. There’s also an out-of-province referral system, which allows a student to be served by healthcare staff in another province, and have general amenities covered by the plan upon written referral from the student’s doctor in their home province.
The University of Saskatchewan is also slightly higher – $250.17. The differences? One hundred per cent coverage for vaccinations, as opposed to the U of R’s 80 per cent. Other than that, there are no differences in terms of vision and dental care; however the homecare nurse option is offered for U of S students as well.
Finally, the University of Victoria’s plan falls at $288. Differences from the U of R plan include 80 per cent coverage for a Learning Disability Assessment for students who struggle academically, as well as tuition insurance, which is a new addition to Studentcare’s plans and is touted as a benefit that is “not included by a parent’s plan.” This benefit allows students who have to quit school due to an injury or illness to opt out of continuing paying tuition, as the plan would cover 100 per cent of all tuition costs up to $10,000 and up to $1,000 for textbook purchases over one semester.
In a general overview of the research, the U of R’s premium for the Studentcare plans appears to be the cheapest out of those observed. However, it does seem that the school lacks features that are common on other campuses.
Regardless of opinion on the matter, many students continue to go with Studentcare, while others will shop around and look for cheaper alternatives.