NYU, Columbia University, University of Rochester and Cornell University have just been allowed to supply students with their own health insurance. The pilot program, which is currentíy unnamed, was auüiorized by Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Aug. 1 after passing through the state Senate and Assembly earlier this year.
Just last year, the states of Utah, Colorado and Montana signed similar legislation and, according to the bill, "Most of the 50 states allow private colleges and universities to self-insure for their students' health insurance." The bill also mentions diat other large universities such as Princeton, Dartmoudi, Harvard, Yale and the entire University of California system all self-fund health insurance for their students "and provide excellent coverage."
The group of aforementioned universities approached the Department of Financial Services to discuss how to supply their students with insurance directly. A press release about the signing of the bill stated, "State insurance law does not permit a New York institution to selffund a student health plan without a license to do business as an insurance company. As a result, an institution must purchase a policy from an insurer or incur the costs of becoming a licensed insurance company." Accordingly, schools will no longer have to purchase a policy from an insurance company.
The hope is to make the insurance "more affordable by reducing administrative and risk costs," reads the bill. The bill allows universities to selffund their health plans since their large endowments, ranging from $1.7 to $7.8 billion, provide them with enough financial security to do so.
Richard Azzopardi of the governor's office said that although all four of the universities are associated with a major medical center in their area, "Medical center affiliation... wasn't a factor" in choosing these universities.
Concerning the bill's impact on the health care plans at the chosen universities, Phung Iran of Columbia University said, "We don't have a comment as it's too early to tell the impact of the program." NYU failed to comment on the situation.
Benjamin Lawsky, New York State superintendent of financial services, said, "Once we have experience with these large, financially strong institutions, we can consider whether the model will work for other universities."
By OLUFEMI J. WATSON
Special to the AmNews