By Megan Schuller
Students petitioned a recent change in university policy regarding international students’ health care options.
The university, which offers their own health insurance plan to students can get easily waved when shown proof of insurance. At the end of August, international students found this was not the case for them. A policy had changed that the students would have to purchase the school’s insurance, even if they already had insurance.
Justin Osadjan, director of International Programs explains how the previous policies on health care differed from the new one established at the start of this year.
“In the past international students were able to find their own alternative insurance to meet the minimum guidelines that the university had set up. This year the university wanted to steer all of the students to the university’s policy and not allow any other [health care] policy,” Osadjan said.
Students objected to having to purchase the university plan, wanting to continue to have the option to find their own cheaper insurance provider. Many students had already bought insurance from home by this time in August when students were notified. Senior International CCPA student from Moldova, Olya Prohorova, created a petition to gain support around campus for changing the plan.
“There was a lot of internal discussion. Students told us that they were unhappy with this change in policy. So the decision was ultimately made that we would not require students to purchase the university’s insurance, but that we would continue the policy from previous years where students could present alternative coverage that complied with the requirements established as a university,” Osadjan said.
Prohorova said the petition had support from students and staff, and merited 184 signatures.
“When I created the petition, I got as many people involved as I could,” Prohorova said. “People like me from eastern Europe who have much cheaper insurance have been paying $200 for an entire year of coverage, and all the sudden we have to pay over $2000.”
According to Prohorova, her insurance which met the requirements, covers her up to $50,000 for emergency situations, but not for regular doctor visits.
“That’s fine that Roosevelt requires a health insurance but not without a notice in advance of such a big amount of money coming out of nowhere. Many of [the international students] are only here on scholarships, especially in the CCPA program. There was no way we could suddenly pay this amount of money,” Prohorova said.
Pablo Suaste Cherizola, sophomore CCPA major, signed the petition.
“I just thought it was ridiculous because we were not notified by school,” he said.
Two weeks before the deadline for the waiver was due on Sep. 15, the university came to a compromise with the students. Like many others, Prohorova did not have to buy Roosevelt’s insurance but she did have to buy a new policy of her own to meet new requirements as stated by the negotiated policy. Her previous insurance was no longer accepted because it did not fit “requirements.
“Students were very much living out the mission of this university, they sensed something they didn’t like was going on and voiced their displeasure,” Osadjan said.
“Change is always difficult, and the students handled it in the best way possible…There is a power in numbers. It is effective when you ban together with people who are also affected by a policy or decision.”