The United States doesn’t require its citizens to have health insurance. However, UF requires their students to have health insurance, and with the additional cost of housing, food, tuition and other necessities, an increasing number of students are drowning in debt. 

For students who have family-provided health insurance, they can submit a waiver and bypass the fee to UF’s health insurance plan. However, for students like Adamu Pastor, a 23-year-old UF biochemistry senior, this isn’t the case.

“I think [health insurance] should be optional,” Pastor said. “I’ve been paying this $860 dollars every semester and I have never, ever visited the infirmary.”

Pastor could not use his family’s health insurance plan because different members of his family are in different U.S. states, he said. He had been paying out-of-state tuition and fees for two years until he recently got residency to pay in-state tuition. He said he believes that if students are being charged for health insurance, then it should be beneficial to them. 

The health insurance is $2,500 annually, according to the UF Health Compliance Website.

Delgui Perez, a 19-year-old political science and international studies sophomore, said she had to pay close to $300 in the summer because her family’s health insurance had expired, and UF’s waiver deadline came before the health insurance problem was resolved.

She said she doesn’t think it’s fair that UF makes it a requirement because some students can’t afford it and that students should not be forced to pay for something they may not use.

When the Florida Department of Health was asked to comment on if UF was allowed to require health insurance, media specialists said they were not authorized to answer.  

Even though some students may not believe health insurance should be required, it is legal in Florida for a university to charge health insurance, according to Florida statute 1004.29 (1).

Some schools in Florida do not require health insurance and some schools do. Florida State University charged $2,563 for the 2019-2020 school year, and Florida A&M University charged $1,853 in the 2017-2018 school year. However, other universities, such as the University of Central Florida, University of South Florida and New College of Florida do not require insurance.

Kat Lindsey, assistant director at the UF Student Health Care Center, said she understands it can be difficult for students and parents to have to pay for health insurance, but the cost is worth it to ensure medical attention.

“I do recognize that there may be a sense of ‘sticker shock’ when looking at the prices for health insurance,” Lindsey said. “However, when I think of the cost of a significant illness, injury or accident, this is not a lot of money. None of us can really anticipate if or when these things may happen.”

Contact Anna Wilder at [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter @anna_wilder.