Mandatory insurance: more cost, benefits

Tamara Afzoud and Tamara Afzoud

Effective in the fall, international students must purchase a $530 insurance policy before they can register for classes.
“As painful as it is for some students to make this transfer, it’s going to be less painful when they are going to have to use the insurance,” said Derrick Banks, director of the International Student Support Program.
Many international students already have insurance from foreign companies, but City Collge will no longer accept these insurance policies. Instead students must purchase the Student Insurance Agency Accidents & Sickness Health Insurance Plan approved by the college prior to registering for fall semester.
The approximate cost for 12-month coverage is $530.
“We did our best to find an insurance company that’s sensitive to the students needs and that have procedures similar to what they would experience in their own countries,” Banks said. “This is an independent insurance company that had to outbid others to provide the lowest cost and best coverage combination.”
Banks said that there have been plenty of cases where hospitals and clinics have not recognized the students’ foreign insurance. In these cases, students have been asked to pay in advance before receiving treatment.
“Students often have to write checks for the whole amount and later be reimbursed by their insurance company,” Banks said. “Then if the insurance company doesn’t agree with the billing, it is the students responsibility to pay.”
“The reality here in the U.S. is that if you don’t have proof of insurance that is recognized, you could be turned away,” Banks said. “Unless you have a credit card with a high balance or a bank account with a lot of money.”
“Part of our service is to make sure that the students don’t have to worry about medical problems in the U.S.,” he said. “We must give the students a sense of security and it can’t be a false sense of security.”
Banks said that the ISSP is often unable to help the students with foreign insurance policies.
“We can hold someone responsible if something happens,” he said about the college-approved insurance.
The International Student Support Program has received many complaints from students who are happy with their own insurance or who have questions about the new policy. For these students, the ISSP will conduct a workshop with insurance company representatives. One will be held from 1- 4 p.m. Friday, April 16 in PS130. The second workshop will be conducted at the same time on April 22.
Veronica Melin, an international student from Sweden, is among the students who think the new policy is a good investment.
“It’s better to spend money on an insurance that works than one that doesn’t,” she said.
Japanese student Yoskay Yamamoto agrees.
“If this insurance really covers everything, I rather pay a bit extra for the right kind of insurance in case I get injured,” he said.