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Wednesday, June 19, 2024

After a year and a half of research and debate, the student health insurance committee at UF has agreed on a new insurance plan, which is set to begin in August.

UF has been with the current provider, UnitedHealthcare, for about two years, and the insurance committee decided it was time to solicit alternative proposals, said Kyle Cavanaugh, senior vice president for administration.

The committee voted to switch from UnitedHealthcare to Aetna, an American health care benefits company, Cavanaugh said.

Under UnitedHealthcare, students pay about $1,400 per school year, excluding the summer session. The cost for similar coverage from Aetna is $1,128, he said.

"Aetna is the leading student health care provider in the U.S.," he said. "By choosing Aetna, we were able to gain a major extension of coverage at a lower price."

Furthermore, Aetna has a $500 per year allotment for prescription drugs while UnitedHealthcare has $250, said Evan Shenkin, director of the student health care insurance committee.

Shenkin said he was most adamant about the increase of included mental health visits per year from 20 to 40 visits.

"With the Virginia Tech shootings and other incidents occurring around different campuses, we felt that this has become an increasingly important benefit," he said.

Shenkin said most undergraduate students are covered under their parents' insurance policy.

As a result, only 6,000 undergraduates are enrolled in UF's student health care plan.

That number doesn't include international students, who are required to have health insurance, whether it be the university's or their own, he said.

Cavanaugh said that although UF doesn't require students to be insured, officials are looking into implementing a waiver system that would require every student to provide proof of health-insurance coverage.

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Alligator writer Ileana Morales contributed to this report.

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