Sailing Away From SHIP

UC Irvine joined all but four UC campuses in leaving the systemwide UC Student Health Insurance Program (UC SHIP) two weeks ago. The Council of Chancellors (COC) followed a series of recommendations by the Student Health Advisory Board in allowing each individual campus to “jump SHIP.”

Jumping an ailing ship unfortunately describes the situation perfectly. UC SHIP still faces a projected $57 million deficit that came from premiums that did not match the benefits provided.

Here is the breakdown on the situation: UC SHIP falls under the category of a self-funded plan. Among the different health insurance plans, the self-funded plan involves the main entity, the UC, collecting premiums from students who buy into a collective pot from all the campuses. The UC then reallocates the funds based on the benefits students claim.

This is opposed to each campus managing their own student health insurance program provided by an outside company.

The idea sounded great — the UC managing and providing its own health program for its students. Things obviously did not go according to plan, and now a few campuses have eagerly gone back to their own SHIPs, and the ones still under UC SHIP find themselves with disgruntled students.

Both undergraduate and graduate students will still have the choice to opt out of the university’s insurance or UC SHIP, respectively, provided that they can present comparable or better coverage under their own insurance. The larger issue is the $57 million hole that the UC needs to address.

Who is responsible for the deficit? The actuarial firm that mishandled managing the self-funded system? The UC itself for going for the self-funded model in the first place? In any case, students are facing the effects of the situation, and we still have the deficit to look forward to.

When the initial news of the UC SHIP deficit broke in late January, few students were talking about it and even fewer were actively giving input on solutions. Granted, many students felt that administration needed to do a better job at reaching out to us, but the road goes both ways.

Many people talk about how high our premiums are for our student health plan, but how many of us take the time to ask why the cost is so high? We’re facing the possibility of premium increase in the very near future, yet how many of us are aware and concerned about it?

Thankfully, UCI abandoned SHIP, which was a solid decision, but how many students even knew that our school decided to leave the UC SHIP system? Really, be honest with yourself. It’s okay if you didn’t.

Take this as an opportunity to get informed and get engaged! We may sound like a broken record here, but as students we cannot sit idly by while decisions that affect us are happening without our knowledge or input. Although transparency from those in charge of the university could always improve, so can our attitudes toward actively seeking answers.

The health care deficit is an example of issues that plague the UC system almost every year: debt, budget cuts, transparency, mismanagement. Time after time, students complain about rising tuition costs, their dissatisfaction with the higher-ups (be it ASUCI, administration, the regents or the government), yet how many of us take those complaints and turn it into action?

Although most of us are only here for four years, that does not mean that we can use our temporary stay as an excuse to not care about the future of our school system. If tuition increases, we should all find out why and voice our concerns — even if you are a senior. If our student health care costs rise, learn why and say something — even if you waive the fee. If our student government decides to spend some of our fees on a program — question the decision making, even if you will not go to said program. It is time to be accountable for our campus and our future.

We have the power to change the direction of our university. This is OUR institution, take it.


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