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Survey results in insurance changes

By Lakshmana Rao

MIT students will have only one health insurance option available to them during an open enrollment period to be held in November, the MIT benefits office has announced.

About 6500 of the 9800 students enrolled this semester are covered by an insurance program underwritten by Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Massachusetts, according to Linda L. Rounds, executive director of the medical department. Other students are covered by their parents' insurance plans, she added.

The plan has no dollar limit on payable benefits for each illness or accident and full coverage for emergency room and surgical services, but no coverage for outpatient physician or dental and optometric services.

Joining the Blue Cross plan costs each student $588 per year, $138 more than the Massachusetts minimum health coverage plan and $4 less than Harvard University students pay for health insurance. "The MIT health plan is geared to protect against the eventuality of big dollar expenses. This makes the MIT health plan better than the minimum health coverage mandated by Massachusetts law, even though the costs are slightly higher," Rounds explained.

Survey found demand

for non-MIT coverage

A health services survey conducted last fall found that students, especially those who do cooperative research and field work, want insurance coverage for treatment performed outside MIT. The survey, conducted by the Graduate Student Council and the Undergraduate Association in conjunction with the Medical Department, was distributed to students on Registration Day last fall. The survey's results were released in a report last November.

Rounds said that the inclusion of an out-of-state coverage option in the Blue Cross and Blue Shield health plan would require students to pay $1800 per year. "Health insurance costs for students are especially high because students have to pay the full cost. The faculty and staff of MIT have wider options in health insurance coverage because the Institute subsidizes about 70 percent of their health insurance," she added.

Christopher M. Gittins, chairman of the GSC Housing and Community Affairs Committee, said, "We hope to work with the Medical Department to generate more insurance options for MIT students by the end of this academic year."

Medical service changes underway

Mark A. Goldstein, chief of pediatrics and student health services, said "We have made some short term changes" based on the survey results, "and will continue to work on other long term changes."

A summary of the survey's results said that "statistics show that a majority of students were satisfied with the services they used. However, the statistical satisfaction does not seem to correlate with the comments made by students."

The survey categorized student responses into different areas such as insurance claims, comments about specific doctors, hours of service, waiting time for appointments and attitudes of staff and doctors. The survey report was submitted to the Medical Department last fall for consideration of further action.

"The department made arrangements for post-doctoral MD students from the Institute of Adolescent and Young Adults to see students in the medical clinic for four afternoons per week. We now have more young women [from the IAYA] providing these services, which will help to reduce the physician waiting time for students," he added.