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Health coverage mandatory for WVU students in 2014

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Beginning with the 2014 academic year, students at West Virginia University will have another requirement tacked on to an already present to-do list.

This requirement, however, doesn't involve the students' academics, but rather their personal health.

Due to the Affordable Care Act, or ACA, all WVU students will be required to have health care coverage with the start of the 2014 school year.

Aetna student health insurance

For students who need health insurance, Aetna Student Health Insurance is an option. Aetna is an ACA-compliant policy offered to WVU students. Aetna is considered a bronze-level plan, which is the minimum requirement for any health care plan and can not only be used as a student plan, but also for a family plan as well.

For students without health insurance, whether by choice or because their current plans fail to meet the new requirements, coverage through Aetna will automatically be expensed to their student bills.

Another option for students is enrollment through the marketplace as long as it meets the requirements set by WVU. With numerous issues highlighting the open enrollment debut Oct. 1, the open enrollment period extends until March 31, 2014.

For students using existing plans of their own or staying on their parents' plans until the cut-off age of 26, the particular plan has to meet not only WVU requirements but also requirements set by the town of Morgantown. The plan has to be transferable between WVU and Morgantown.

To ensure every student has insurance, the insurance status of students will be checked. But many questions remain. Will there be any pushback by those who don't carry insurance and argue that because of their youth, they more than likely won't need it? And what about students who, if the ACA mandate didn't make insurance a requirement, would have chosen to forgo that particular coverage?

"The process next year will be one that will require students to have insurance, so there won't be the option to think, ‘I don't need it' since they will automatically be charged the student insurance that is provided through Aetna," Catherine Yaru, assistant vice-president of WELLWVU, said. "This is currently the process that WVU enforces with international students and medical students." 

How WVU is accommodating

During the summer of 2014, all services and programs within WELLWVU will be moved to the new facility at the Evansdale campus location, adjacent to the Student Recreation Center.

WELLWVU, the students' center of health, currently includes student health, Carruth Center for Psychological and Psychiatric Services and the Office of Wellness and Health Promotion.

According to Yaru, the new policy will have minimal changes. Urgent care will be taking over student health and additional staff.

The expansion of services includes a partnership with WVU Healthcare, allowing for extended evening and weekend clinic hours and enhanced coordination with WVU Healthcare specialty services, according to WELLWVU's web site.

"We will continue to offer good health care to students," she said.

Yaru said state and federal dollar distribution is changing, and other universities across the country are currently using the model WVU is implementing.

Billing insurance for services

The reorganization of fees and keeping educational costs low are top on WVU's priority list. Also on the priority list is circulating a communication plan to help students better understand the new changes, particularly out-of-state students making out-of-state decisions.

For students using the medical services provided at the WELLWVU Student Health Center, services can either be billed to the student's health insurance provider or paid from their own resources. If a student chooses to use his or her health insurance, a co-payment determined by the carrier will be required.