March 24, 2016 announcement from Dr. Paul Chelsen, Vice President for Student Development:
I write with an update to all faculty, staff and students on Wheaton’s approach to student health insurance for the 2016–17 academic year, which begins August 1, 2016.
In the fall semester, I consulted with Faculty Council, Graduate Faculty Council, Student Government, the Graduate Psychology Student Association, Student Development Deans and Directors and the Senior Administrative Cabinet to form a representative Student Insurance Task Force of 13 key stakeholders among undergraduate and graduate students, undergraduate and graduate international students, faculty, and staff. Next, I sent a survey to all graduate and undergraduate students to collect insurance related data to inform the work of the task force. The Task Force met three times and examined a range of options to implement for the 2016-17 academic year. In addition to considering student survey data, the Task Force also considered input from an insurance professional.
After considering the options in light of the unchanged legal landscape, the Student Insurance Task Force requested to the Senior Administrative Cabinet that the College implement five recommendations concurrently. The following recommendations were approved by the Senior Administrative Cabinet.
1. Offer an accident and illness insurance plan for residential international (F-l visa holding) students with the most coverage at the lowest possible price; require mandatory participation based on feedback from international students on the challenge of locating their own plans and in order to secure the most cost effective premium.
2. In recognition of the potential financial hardship to requiring all international students to purchase a particular student insurance plan while already enrolled in a plan, the Task Force also recommended that a Hardship Fund be established for 2016–17 to help continuing international students who will pay a higher than expected insurance premium or who will have to pay two overlapping premiums for a period of time in order to fulfill the new insurance requirement.
3. Continue to require varsity athletes to annually show proof of primary insurance coverage to the Athletic Training staff and continue to require students who are studying abroad to show proof of primary insurance coverage to the Center for Global & Experiential Learning.
4. Design robust education for domestic students, nonstudent spouses as well as for their dependents to include the following:
- 24/7 online access to training about why and how to shop for insurance in the U.S.
- In-person training options before insurance open enrollment times
- Targeted announcements to students turning 26 and aging out of their parent's policy
- How students who are 26 and over can sign up for Medicaid.
5. Assemble online resources to search for licensed Illinois insurance agents who can help domestic students, nonstudent spouses and their dependents sign up for a health insurance plan in light of their particular healthcare needs and financial resources.
I will be available in person, along with Britt Black, Director of Student Health Services, to listen to graduate and undergraduate student comments and concerns in three open forums. I am grateful for the work of the Student Insurance Task Force members in helping the College discern the best way forward for 2016-17.
Vice President for Student Development