Once you have considered your insurance options, the next step is to decide how you would like to administer your plan. Often this will depend on what resources you have available to dedicate to implementing an insurance plan on campus. Are you a one-person or small team in charge of all things international, or do you have a sizable staff that can dedicate time and energy to administering an insurance plan? There are a number of ways that these plans can be administered, and here are the most common:
A mandatory group plan requires that all international students, scholars, and dependents are enrolled in a group health insurance plan selected by the school. Insurance premiums are typically added into tuition costs, and it’s a one-size-fits-all model. In a mandatory group plan, students are required to purchase coverage through the school, helping to avoid any adverse selection on the plan. This means that both healthy and sick students would be enrolled on one plan, with the hopes that claims will be generally stable year-to-year to avoid big increases in premium.
Other schools acknowledge that there are students who may not need the school’s group plan for a variety of reasons. The most common reasons are that the student may arrive on a scholarship or government program that already offers comprehensive health insurance, the student or scholar already has health insurance through their employer, or they may have a private insurance that already provides comprehensive coverage suited to their needs. Many young, healthy students object to paying the cost of a very comprehensive group plan when they can get comparable coverage for much less by purchasing their own individual plan. While this option requires the school to be more involved in the administration, it allows students more flexibility with their insurance choices. Schools should make sure that they set minimum levels of coverage to make sure students have adequate coverage – and did not simply purchase the cheapest option! Many schools do this by requiring proof of insurance or having the student and/or insurance company fill out a waiver form certifying a specific level of coverage for the full school term.
Some schools do not have a group plan in place, and like the Mandatory Group with Waiver option, require students to purchase an insurance plan that meets a set of minimum requirements. Students can show proof of coverage by presenting their insurance confirmation to the school, or by having a waiver or insurance form completed by either the student or insurance company.
In some cases, schools will simply inform students about coverage options but let them purchase on their own without the need to show proof of coverage. Of course, this can mean a student will not actually purchase coverage and could be uninsured. We do not recommend this course of action! At a minimum, require a simple proof of coverage.