Local News

NC State parents say they weren't notified about mandatory insurance deadline

Posted October 7, 2013

— Imagine discovering hundreds of additional dollars added to your child's college tuition bill.

Some parents with students at North Carolina State University say that's exactly what they are dealing with after they were billed for health insurance that their children either didn't want or didn’t need.

All students enrolled in the University of North Carolina System are required to have health insurance, but policy allows them to opt out of the automatic university health insurance program if they are covered under their parents' plans or can prove they already have health insurance.

Roberta Frank recently received an email notice, forwarded by her son, a junior, saying he was covered by Blue Cross Blue Shield North Carolina, even though he's already covered under his family's policy.

"He's got double coverage from insurance that I never approved and know nothing about," Frank said Monday.

The result is losing a $688 refund for opting out of coverage.

Normally, parents say they pay the cost of insurance when they pay tuition and are then refunded the amount if they opt out.

Frank said that, unlike previous years, she was never notified about the deadline to decline the university insurance plan, which recently changed from another provider to Blue Cross Blue Shield.

Blue Cross Blue Shield apparently notified students instead of their parents. Frank said her son never received the email, and she assumes it went into his email account's spam folder.

Chris Demorat, who has a son and daughter attending N.C. State, was billed nearly $1,400.

"I'm really frustrated, because N.C. State has been good about notifying us," Demorat said. "So, I don't know where the glitch happened here, but it's a big one."

Demorat said she didn't know about the insurance change until her children received their insurance cards in the mail.

While researching the issue, Demorat's daughter found a Sept. 17 opt-out notice in her spam folder.

"She said it looked like an advertisement, and it said UNC," Demorat said. "Nowhere did it say NCSU."

Information about opting out of the insurance coverage, however, is on the university's website and in fine print at the bottom of the tuition bill.

Students had until Sept. 24 to decline the coverage.

University spokesman Mick Kulikowski said Monday that students and their families had plenty of time to opt out of the insurance program and that they received reminders in the summer and fall.

"Students need to be diligent about making sure all university requirements and paperwork are fulfilled," Kulikowski said. "The vast majority of our 34,000 students navigate the process with no problems."

Blue Cross Blue Shield is handling insurance for all 16 campuses in the UNC System, which includes 220,000 students.

UNC Vice President of Communications Joni Worthington said she's not aware of any widespread problems with this issue across the system.

Lew Borman, head of media relations for Blue Cross Blue Shield, said universities set the policies about how and when students opt out, and then notifies the insurance company regarding who should be covered.

25 Comments

This story is closed for comments. Comments on WRAL.com news stories are accepted and moderated between the hours of 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. Monday through Friday.

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  • mcorson2 Oct 8, 4:56 p.m.

    im with pinball wizard, i have a son there and it was on the bill, however the student has to make sure to prove and have paperwork in hand before this is dropped. we had no problem.

  • pinball wizard Oct 8, 3:43 p.m.

    How did WRAl find out about this? How many people are we talking about? 1 or 2, or thousands.

    Personally, I had no problem with it. Just a little paperwork and done.

  • DangYankee Oct 8, 2:13 p.m.

    @whatelseisnew: It is $688 per semester, and is very clearly marked on the bill, at least at UNC Charlotte. If you wanted to opt out and get the charge removed, because your student is covered by family health insurance, it led you through the process. The insurance the UNC system provides is about on par with private health insurance (my ex covers or son's insurance).

    Don't parents read the bills before clicking on "pay"?

  • Scubagirl Oct 8, 2:00 p.m.

    maybe it IS clearly stated on the bill, maybe like one poster suggested with the exorbitant cost of college already the parents probably figured all was on the up and up.

    I SAY it wouldn't surprise me one bit if BCBS didn't do this on purpose. It's always better to ask forgiveness mentality IF you get caught. Wonder how much money they got that they wouldn't have due to this 'lapse of the parents'?

  • IPayYouPay Oct 8, 1:13 p.m.

    Sounds like a lot of "___ for tat" if you ask me. Poor, poor me, I missed out on the refund. Deal with it. You snooze, you lose.

    This forum wouldn't let me say the first word in my quotes up there. Used in this context is NOT profane. Really, forum get over yourself.

  • jcthai Oct 8, 1:03 p.m.

    It's Obama's fault. Come on. You know you want to say it....

  • outsidelookingin Oct 8, 12:40 p.m.

    I'm a graduate student at NCSU and I got the email and it had a Sept 10th date for the opt out deadline. I procrastinated and then on Sept 11th could not access the opt out link so I went to BCBS directly and opted out. Was refunded within 7 days.

  • infinity Oct 8, 12:40 p.m.

    It is posted on the tuition bill and college website. On the website it clearly states that you must opt out if you do not want the insurance. Parents need to be a little more involved in reviewing tuition statements--the charge is on there; why not question it? I had no problem with opting out on my son's account.

  • whatelseisnew Oct 8, 12:32 p.m.

    "college is an overwhelming experience for some. especially when students/parents are sent stacks of letters and emails usually in mass bulk from the University. Instead of laughing at or voicing 'no sympathy' it would appear that folks would be more sympathetic or provide constructive advice to one another - Especially fellow Wolfpack alum AND families."

    It is not overwhelming, the main problem is many people are too lazy to read anything or take any action. It is very simple, if your kid has insurance, then demand a refund. If they do not, then decide if the price through the university is a good price and if the coverage is adequate.

  • whatelseisnew Oct 8, 12:30 p.m.

    This is what happens to you when you allow the Government to operate as Fascists. The School, The STATE and the Federal Government HAS zero business dictating that someone has to have health insurance.

    One plus side to this insurance used to be that it was a reasonable cost, I have no idea if it is still that way. Gee maybe I should have my spouse enroll so we can afford to buy insurance. Anyone know what they are charging?

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