The company that already provides health insurance on 13 UNC-system campuses has been chosen to offer a uniform plan at all system schools.
Pearce & Pearce, a South Carolina-based company that specializes in student insurance, will provide the optional systemwide insurance plan.
Students at all schools must have health insurance by next school year, as mandated by the Board of Governors. They must enroll in the system plan if they do not demonstrate coverage through a parent or employer.
In a decision that took about a month longer than originally expected, Pearce & Pearce beat out five competitors for the system plan, including finalist Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina, which currently provides the campus health insurance plan at UNC-Chapel Hill and N.C. State University.
Bruce Mallette, UNC-system senior associate vice president for academic and student affairs, said Pearce & Pearce was selected because of the company’s experience working with system schools.
“They are a student health insurance company,” Mallette said.
He also said that estimates for Pearce & Pearce’s premiums, the base payment for coverage, were slightly lower than those of BCBS and that premiums at the schools Pearce & Pearce serves have been consistent from year to year.
During the bidding process, UNC-system officials estimated that the premium would be between $549 and $679 per year.
Mallette said he expects about 60,000 of the system’s nearly 200,000 undergraduate students to purchase the plan.
Pearce & Pearce wasn’t everyone’s top choice.
Greg Doucette, Association of Student Governments president, said student body presidents from several of the schools currently served by Pearce & Pearce complained about its service.
Josh Cotton, Student Government Association president at Western Carolina University, said students have had trouble finding health care providers nearby who accept Pearce & Pearce.
BCBS, the largest insurance company in North Carolina, is accepted by most physicians.
“BCBS was a little bit more expensive but clearly a better provider,” Cotton said.
Mallette said system officials plan to address those complaints. He will hold a conference call today with health center directors and student representatives to discuss the decision.
He also said Pearce & Pearce will launch a Web site in early April so students and health center directors can test the software.
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