Report: Campaign for Health Care Reform

Student Health Program Baseline Report

Academic years 2005/2006 through 2007/2008
Released by: Division of Health Care Finance and Policy (DHCFP)

The Student Health Program Baseline Report is the first comprehensive report on the Student Health Program (SHP) from the Division of Health Care Finance and Policy (DHCFP) and aims to:

  • Provide an overview of SHP enrollment and financial performance at Massachusetts colleges and universities,
  • Serve as a baseline for SHP comparisons in the future, and
  • Improve transparency within the SHP marketplace.

Major Findings
The major findings of this report include:

  •  Over 95,000 students purchase health insurance through their schools each year.
  • Student Health Program benefits vary greatly by school. While SHPs are required to provide a minimum set of benefits to students, schools often tailor their SHPs to meet the needs of their students.
  • The average SHP premium is $1,216 per year, but there is a wide range of premiums among schools. Some schools achieve lower than average premiums through limiting benefit coverage. Students enrolled in SHPs offering lower levels of coverage may experience significant out-of-pocket expenses due to coverage gaps.
  • Student Health Program enrollment is concentrated among a small number of national insurance carriers. This market dynamic may have contributed to the higher average profit margins realized by SHP carriers compared to those seen in private insurance products in Massachusetts.

This report reflects data for the academic years of 2005-2006, 2006-2007, and 2007-2008. It is important to note that premiums reported do not include university/college administrative or health center fees (for schools that have them). Schools also did not include data on services provided at student health centers. A brief description of the analytic methodology relevant to each data table is provided at the bottom of each page. Additional information is available in the Appendix.

DHCFP would like to thank Nancy Turnbull of the Harvard School of Public Health for her strategic and analytic support in the development of this report. We also thank Dianna Welch and Gregory Herrle from Oliver Wyman Actuarial Consulting, Inc. for their support and review of the data. Finally, we thank the staff at schools, insurance carriers, and insurance brokers for their continued timely responses to our requests for data.

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