CANO-SANTIAGO: All U.Va. college students have the proper to medical insurance – The Cavalier Every day


Final fall, Scholar Council efficiently negotiated for an Aetna Scholar Well being Insurance coverage grant starting subsequent fall for roughly 270 to 320 low-income college students on the College. This enormous accomplishment got here after years of advocacy by Political Latinxs United for Motion and Motion, and can present reduction to many low-income college students throughout Grounds. Whereas this is a crucial step, the truth that these negotiations even needed to happen requires larger scrutiny and deeper introspection. Additional, these negotiations solely culminated in a four-year trial run of this system, which suggests future low-income college students should not assured insurance coverage underneath this new coverage. The College should be sure that low-income college students for generations to come back are protected and insured — no scholar ought to have to fret about how they’ll afford their medical insurance or medical prices.

You will need to first acknowledge the achievements and implications of this new grant. It is a momentous feat of student-led governance and has constructive implications for the numerous low-income college students who could depend on varied types of need-based help to pay for his or her tuition. Accordingly, they could have additionally struggled to afford medical insurance — which regularly prices upwards of $13,000 over 4 years — as required by College coverage. It’s equally necessary to grasp the scope of the brand new grant. The grant first started as a decision proposed throughout a fall 2021 Scholar Council assembly, which requested the College to approve $1.5 million per yr to cowl medical insurance prices underneath Aetna Scholar Well being for eligible in-state and out-of-state college students. The College agreed to a $1 million per yr medical insurance grant.

Regardless of all of the positives, healthcare could proceed to be out of attain for a lot of low-income college students. It’s inexcusable that hundreds of former low-income college students needed to graduate $13,000 or extra in debt due to their incapability to buy insurance coverage. There may be additionally the query of accessibility to this healthcare for present college students. Inside Charlottesville, college students have the flexibility to go to the Scholar Well being Constructing for varied well being companies freed from price. Nevertheless, many college students — particularly out-of-state and worldwide college students — could proceed to battle to afford insurance coverage when looking for care exterior Charlottesville. Equally, the insurance coverage acts as extra of a reduction plan on companies reminiscent of eyecare and dental, however isn’t any substitute for different medical insurance policy reminiscent of state Medicaid or personal insurance policy. 

As a low-income scholar myself who’s lucky to attend the College underneath a full scholarship that features a medical insurance plan, I do know the battle to afford medical visits doesn’t finish with having medical insurance. I’ve Aetna Scholar Well being Insurance coverage, however the $350 yearly deductible has saved me from utilizing my insurance coverage exterior of Grounds — one thing I didn’t have to fret about on my government-issued insurance coverage, which I might solely use in my residence state. Below my state Medicaid program, I’ll not have had a variety of suppliers to select from, however my medical visits and prescriptions have typically come at a price of $0. Below Aetna, I’m paying for costly out-of-pocket medical visits for the primary time. Many low-income college students on the College have taken on jobs simply to afford tuition, and whereas they could not have to fret concerning the up-front price of insurance coverage anymore, extra prices of care could stay burdensome. 

The truth is that entry to healthcare stays a barrier to not solely college students, however to individuals throughout the nation. Low-income individuals are most weak to illness, particularly for continual sicknesses that proceed to overwhelm healthcare programs globally. Most of those illnesses are preventable, however with over 30 million uninsured People missing entry to yearly check-ups — which may present early detection and save lives  — our present system is inequitable. Additional, not everyone seems to be eligible for state insurance coverage or has a job that gives healthcare. These limitations, in addition to medical prices — that are solely rising with every successive yr — typically deter uninsured People from looking for medical consideration.

It’s unfathomable that amidst a world pandemic, we’re nonetheless debating whether or not or not healthcare accessibility is a human proper. Regardless of one’s political leanings, it’s basically unethical to imagine one should work, obtain or succeed with a view to be wholesome. With the huge information of medical science that exists, there isn’t any cause why solely a choose group of higher-class residents needs to be allowed to entry generally life-saving assets and companies.

Whereas it’s unreasonable to count on the College to resolve the nationwide healthcare disaster, it shouldn’t have taken till a pandemic for the College to acknowledge and prioritize the well being of a few of its most weak college students. Nevertheless, the College can do its half transferring ahead to make sure that its previous and current college students should not burdened by inaccessibility to healthcare by forgiving previous insurance coverage loans for earlier low-income college students, working with these struggling to pay medical prices and committing to greater than a four-year trial of the medical insurance grant. No scholar — particularly these struggling to afford school prices or paying off scholar money owed — needs to be pressured to place their well being in danger. 

Yssis Cano-Santiago is an Opinion Columnist for The Cavalier Every day. She could be reached at 

The opinions expressed on this column should not essentially these of The Cavalier Every day. Columns characterize the views of the authors alone. 

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