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State Regulations Affect Health Plan International Students... Insurance Plans Will be Most Affected by Changes

By Diana Jue
STAFF REPORTER

In order to comply with new state regulations, changes have been made to the MIT Student Health Plan that will once again affect international students at MIT. One new regulation will require that students purchase a comprehensive health insurance policy from a United States-based insurance carrier. International students will no longer waive the MIT Student Extended Insurance Plan for a plan based in a foreign country. Also included is the exception for MIT students who are studying in a foreign country. These students must subscribe to a plan that will cover them in the country where they will study. The revisions are effective August 11, 2006.

Thirteen percent of the international students at MIT — 266 graduate students and 79 undergraduates students — waived the extended plan during the 2005-06 academic year, according to MIT Health Plans officials Maryann Wattendorf and Sara Fuschetto.

International students have had varied responses. Kah Seng Tay ’08 from Singapore said, “I think it’s fine if they want to force international students to take up the extended insurance, since most of us do not have parents here that might have taken out insurance for us and do not actually have any form of insurance in the States at all.”

However, Tay feels some dissatisfaction with the reach of the MIT Student Extended Insurance Plan. Tay is spending his summer in California, but the Extended Insurance Plan which he pays for only covers him at MIT. “I’m dissatisfied with the fact that the insurance does not extend out of MIT,” he said. “We are not entitled to any of the plan except for emergency cases.”

The new Qualified Student Health Insurance Program regulations also include a requirement that students under 18 who want to waive the MIT Student Extended Insurance Plan must include a signature of a parent or guardian on the waiver. MIT Health Plans will modify the waiver process so that minor students and their parents acknowledge the students’ minor status and supply necessary signatures, Fuschetto said in an e-mail.

“It falls in line with everything,” Esther Chung ’09 said, referring to the requirement for minors to provide signatures on their waivers. “Why wasn’t it required from the beginning? It just makes sense.”

Another change is a $250 deductible per calendar year for out-of-network services. The new regulations state that the total annual deductible, which is the amount a student would pay for covered services each year before the MIT Student Extended Insurance Plan begins to pay benefits, may not exceed $250 for in-network and out-of-network services. The in-network is a group of doctors, hospitals, and other health care providers contracting with MIT Health Plans to provide price discounts and services for a high volume of patients. In-network services have no annual deductible.

Many changes were also made to in-network services, Fuschetto said. To accommodate the cap put on all deductibles regardless of network, in-network services which had deductibles will now have co-payments. The deductible and co-payment for benefit of short term physical therapy and occupational therapy visits has been replaced by a 20 percent coinsurance (the percentage of covered charges for which a student is liable) for visits one through 16 and 50 percent coinsurance for visits 17 through 24. This benefit is limited to 24 visits per year, which combines in-network and out-of-network short term rehabilitation visit limits.

The MIT Health Plan staff is currently in the process of notifying all affected students.

Details regarding the MIT Student Health Plan can be found in the MIT Student Health Plan Overview, which can be downloaded from http://web.mit.edu/medical/pdf/student0607.pdf. Students with questions about health insurance can contact the Student Health Plan Office at stuplan@med.mit.edu.