The Daily Tar Heel

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Monday May 17th

Insurance plan to be decided in January

Student health insurance premiums in 2010 would be about one-third the current rate at UNC-Chapel Hill under projections presented Monday for a plan to be offered on all UNC-system campuses.

All students in the system will be required to have health insurance by the next school year, as mandated by the Board of Governors.

BlueCross and BlueShield of North Carolina and Pearce & Pearce, the two finalists to provide the plan, gave presentations Monday before representatives of the system’s general administration and campus health services.

Student leaders said projected premiums were roughly comparable to officials’ early estimates, which set rates between $549 and $679 per year. The estimates were determined based on a set of benefits stipulated by system officials.

Premiums at UNC-Chapel Hill were $1,565 for the 2008-09 school year.

BCBS and Pearce & Pearce also took questions from participants in the room and via video conference.

“This is unscripted. It’s kind of like ‘Saturday Night Live,’” Bruce Mallette, UNC-system senior associate vice president for academic and student affairs, said during the afternoon session, prompting laughs around the room.

“There will be no singing in the introduction though.”

Participants quizzed representatives from the companies on how they guard against security breaches, what Web services would be available to students and whether they could handle the high volume of students enrolling in or waiving out of the new plan next fall.

The plan will serve students who do not demonstrate creditable coverage from another source, such as a parent or employer. Students who already have coverage can choose not to switch to the campus plan.

Representatives from both companies said their organizations have experience working with schools that require students to have insurance.

Pearce & Pearce, which specializes in student insurance, provides the plans at 13 UNC-system schools.

Eleven of those schools require students to demonstrate coverage.

“There will be no system change because the system works,” said Carolyn Pearce, chief operating officer at Pearce & Pearce.

BCBS, the largest insurance company in North Carolina, provides the plans offered at UNC-Chapel Hill, N.C. State University and Appalachian State University. Those schools don’t require students to have insurance.

But Dan Hill, BCBS director of service and administration, said his company worked with Duke University when the school began requiring insurance in 1979.

Hill also said he has a team that is separate from the rest of BCBS that manages student insurance plans.

Five insurance companies submitted bids to provide the new campus plan, said Joe Rippard, risk manager for the N.C. Department of Insurance.

Aetna, United Healthcare and University Health Plans vied with the two finalists for the contract, Rippard said.

Officials plan to choose a provider for the campus plan by mid-January.

Rippard said seven companies submitted bids for a voluntary dental plan. The group will hear from finalists for that plan today.



Contact the State & National editor at stntdesk@unc.edu

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