Raleigh, N.C. — 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.