GPSA discusses health insurance options, challenges for grad students

Currently in two-year contract with United Healthcare; new senator, representatives-at-large elected



The school is currently in a two-year contract with United Healthcare, the graduate student health insurance provider.

ALEX MCCOLLUM, Multimedia editor

GPSA voted to appoint a new senator and new representative at their meeting Monday evening.

Achyut Paudel will serve as the new senator-at-large for the Department of Animal Science. Samantha Edgerton will serve as the representative-at-large for the Carson College of Business.

The school offers health insurance to some graduate students who meet certain eligibility requirements, said Joel Schwartzkopf, Cougar Health Services executive director.

The school is currently in a two-year contract with United Healthcare, the graduate student health insurance provider. The contract lowered the annual insurance premium cost from the previous contract by raising the maximum out-of-pocket costs for students to $7,000, said Kelley Westhoff, Budget, Planning and Analysis executive director.

The out-of-pocket maximum is different from an insurance deductible. The out-of-pocket maximum is how much someone can spend that is not covered by health insurance in one year. A deductible is the maximum amount someone pays before their insurance covers a medical cost, according to Policygenius.

If GPSA wanted to explore options in raising or lowering premium rates to change the out-of-pocket maximum, they have that option, Schwartzkopf said. They also have the ability to look into other insurance providers when the contract with United Healthcare ends.

There is also a financial hardship fund available to graduate students, which can be applied to any service provided by CHS, he said. If a student has an out-of-pocket expense from medical care at CHS they cannot afford, the fund can be applied.

COVID-19 screening has been significantly reduced at CHS and in the Pullman region. There are exceptions for students traveling internationally whose destination requires a negative test. Schwartzkopf said diagnostic testing is still available for students experiencing symptoms or have been exposed to COVID-19.

CAPS offers a wide variety in styles of mental health care for graduate and undergraduate students, including cognitive behavioral, dialectical, psychodynamic and interpersonal therapies, Ellsworth said.

One provider for CAPS specializes in group therapy for graduate students. They added a second session because of its popularity, she said. Currently, both sessions are full.