Health insurance costs for NC college students double in two years

Posted July 17, 2012

— The University of North Carolina system requires all students to have health insurance coverage, but the cost of a plan the system offers has more than doubled in two years.

The insurance requirement started in 2010, and about one-third of students on the system's 16 university campuses buy their policy through UNC's provider, New York-based insurer Chartis. The rest of the students have other coverage, usually through their parents.

The average cost of the Chartis policy started at $695 a year, but it rose to $847 last year. Tuition bills that are now arriving in student mailboxes for the 2012-13 school year include a $1,418 health insurance premium.

"That's a lot of money to come out of our pocket. I hated to see that," said Kerwin Chavis, a senior at North Carolina State University. "That's why I'm here at work. I'm actually trying to get up some money so I can pay for it this year."

Bruce Mallette, the UNC system's vice president for academic and student affairs, blamed the increase on a high number of claims by students on the policy.

"It was a very affordable plan," Mallette said. "If you look nationally, the pricing we had in the first two years was very, very competitive, and students utilized it and utilized it and utilized it."

Chartis initially underestimated the cost of the claims, he said, and UNC's contract doesn't limit yearly increases.

Insurance costs give UNC students, parents sticker shock Insurance costs give UNC students, parents sticker shock

"(The company) had a review of all the data to justify any increase that was there, so there was no cap," he said.

Chartis officials declined to comment.

UNC plans to re-bid the insurance contract next year, Mallette said.

In the meantime, he said, the university health plan is still a good deal, noting that the University of South Carolina charges its students $1,624 a year for health coverage and the University of Virginia charges $2,400.

Students also are free to shop around for cheaper health coverage elsewhere, he said.

"If they prefer to get a different set of benefits at a different cost premium, they can shop with any vendor and seek a combination that best fits their needs," he said.

Chavis didn't shop around this semester, but he said he might for the spring semester.

"It's getting larger and larger," he said of the premium. "(I'm) trying to get out of here as quick as I can."

Students who opt out of the Chartis plan must prove they have other health coverage by Sept. 15 to avoid being charged.


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  • JustOneGodLessThanU Jul 20, 2012

    @storchheim, Conservatives (you?) don’t want people to have to buy healthcare, right? Since half of all bunkruptcies are related to medical bills and the chances are *extremely* high (95%?) that humans will need expensive healthcare before they die...

    1) This relieves the uninsured from taking responsibility for their healthcare

    2) and me...are already paying for their healthcare

    3) The uninusured can turn a $10 antibiotic doctor-office visit into a $300,000 E.D./Surgery/3-weeks-in-ICU extravaganza

    Why do you want to let people NOT take resposibility for themselves? Why are you fighting this?...all the while telling us that WANT people to take personal responsibility?

  • JustOneGodLessThanU Jul 20, 2012

    “We have to come up with a way to provide some level of care for those who have neither insurance nor money to pay for treatment.” -- Objective Scientist

    You, sir, have this opinion because you actually care about other human beings.

    So many other people don’t give a rat’s patootee about others. Sure, they may SAY they do...probably every Sunday morning when other people can see them...but, their actions demonstrate that they couldn’t care less about others.

    They don’t care if someone has no insurance, gets really sick because they didn’t have a $10 antibiotic and then shows up in the E.R. with a life-or-death problem only to get turned away because they can’t pay. Money is all that matters to some folks.

    It’s up to people like you & me to keep dragging our country into modern, civilized times - to get people to treat others as they want to be treated. It’s not easy, but other countries have done it and we can too! :-)

  • MariAnn Jul 20, 2012

    Anyone out there remember the promise that auto insurance rates would go down if we inacted a seat belt law?
    Insurance companies are a sweet investment right now. It doesn't get any better in the real work world! My insurance premium is 50% of my salary. Why work?
    I believe in being responsible but inacting laws will not bring about personal responsibility.
    I agree with the comments on more choices. My employer offers only one plan, I have been rejected by BCBS on an individual policy. I believe high deductible plans for catastrophic illness is the answer.

  • heisenberg Jul 19, 2012

    How can this be? Obama promised that he would lower health care costs!

  • superman Jul 19, 2012

    No point in people going to college there just aint no jobs. Millions of college graduates are unemployed. Learn to work a cash register or flip burgers and work in a fast food place. Why do couples have children and they cant feed them or send them to school? They have them cause they get a nice federal and state income tax exemption for all of them. Our tax system is like welfare the more children you have the better the benefits.

  • storchheim Jul 18, 2012

    "Ok, let these adults choose NOT to buy health insurance.

    They get in a motor vehicle accident and you have just bankrupted them (maybe their parents too, if they even have any) and you most-likely saddled the taxpayers with their bills.

    How is that "taking responsibility for yourself"? ...which is a top-ten item on the official Republican Platform." infant

    It isn't. Where did you get that idea?

  • storchheim Jul 18, 2012

    "How is that not being forced by the university to buy health insurance? Again, the university's business is in educating it students... not in medically insuring them." Southern Gal

    1. No one's forcing anyone to attend the university. If they choose to go, they pay tuition, fees, books and insurance.

    2. If you feel the school is "in the business" of insurance, you'll have no problem with their shutting down the health centers. Right?

  • storchheim Jul 18, 2012

    I went to a state college in the early 70s and health insurance was required then. No one threw a tantrum. Of course the entitlement mentality hadn't progressed to the disgusting extent it has now. We didn't value self-esteem, we valued self-respect and part of that entailed paying for ourselves. When I could no longer afford school, I dropped out and went to work.

  • storchheim Jul 18, 2012

    Hey infant, you posted the Liberal response. Here's the Conservative one:

    Pay for your own healthcare.
    Take responsibility for yourself.
    Use the ER for emergencies where life or limb is in immediate danger, and pay the bill.

  • storchheim Jul 18, 2012

    "Repubs... don't like Obamacare... OK, tell us how you'd change it or with what you'd replace it! A simple request!"

    I don't feel the need to solve others' problems for them, but since you demand: let the consumers shop the market and choose a product.

    Why do you insist on keeping the govt involved in our private lives?