GUEST ROOM | Changes in Cornell’s Health Insurance Requirement Warrant a Warning

Current full-time students at Cornell must be enrolled in a health insurance plan that provides in-network coverage at the Cayuga Medical Center, which is the only hospital in Ithaca. However, Cornell’s Student Health Benefits Advisory Committee determined that beginning on May 1, 2019, full-time students may satisfy health insurance coverage with a plan that does not include CMC as an in-network provider. One of the main reasons for this change is that over 20 percent of Cornell students have coverage offered by UnitedHealthcare, which does not work with CMC as an in-network provider. Instead of requiring thousands of students to change insurance provider to gain access to CMC as an in-network provider, SHBAC is going to “encourage” all full-time students to have in-network coverage at CMC, according to the Student Health Benefits website. The new health insurance requirement is controversial because there is no obvious solution.

EDITORIAL: Closing the Student Health Plan Affordability Gap

If you go to Cornell, you either have a health insurance plan or you are a clever rulebreaker. If your parents didn’t shell out for eligible private insurance, then you’re likely on the University’s Student Health Plan, which is comprehensive and student-tailored. Students with lower incomes can enroll in a related plan, called SHP+, free of charge. So for most, enrolling in a health plan is but a matter of setting and forgetting. But not for everyone.

EDITORIAL: The Case of the Vanishing Insurance Waivers

For most Cornell students, opting out of the Student Health Plan is an afterthought, just another item on an endless list of pre-arrival summer tasks. Last year, for instance, 10,695 out of 11,224 SHP waiver applications, or 95 percent, were approved without issue. This year, however, an estimated 2000 more students than normal were denied insurance waivers, and were told to pay $2,800 for the SHP, instead of the $370 opt-out fee. Many of those students had previously secured waivers without issue, and were frustrated to find themselves owing thousands of dollars they had not planned for. Their frustration is merited — it was the University that bungled this year’s waiver process.