Did You Know? – Extended Edition

AUSU Health Care Plan

You may not have noticed it yet, because they’re trying to do a “soft launch” just to get the bugs out, but the AUSU Health Care plan, as provided by Gallivan & Associates, is now up and running. So, The Voice Magazine is here to give you some facts about how the plan works and stacks up to other plans you may have access to.

Does it cover as much as my private plan?
Probably not. If you already have a private health care plan, it probably covers more than the AUSU plan does. But it probably also costs a lot more.

As a comparison, I currently have a health care plan That’s quite good, but it costs me close to $175/month. The AUSU negotiated plan will cost you only $325/year, which is just over $27/month.

Is it as cheap as the plan provided by other Students’ Unions at campus-based universities?
No. But It’s close. By comparison, the plan offered at the University of Calgary (also run through Gallivan & Associates) will cost you 95.50 for four months. That’s just under $25/month. But to get coverage for the full year, you’d also have to sign up for eight courses over the year, three in each of the fall and winter terms, and two during the spring/summer term. Plus, the plans at campus-based universities tend to have strict opt-out policies, where you have to demonstrate that you have other insurance already, and then provide that proof within a single month during each term.

So what’s the big deal, then?
The big deal is that this plan works for the majority of AU students. Whether you take two courses or ten during the year, you qualify for the AUSU plan. If you took one course six months ago and You’re just signing up for your second course now, you qualify for the AUSU plan. If you don’t want coverage for some reason, opting out is easy and requires no proof of other insurance. If you already have coverage, say through your work or your campus-based institution, this plan can go on top of that to supplement it. So if you have the plan at the U of C, you’ll get 80% coverage of your prescription drug costs up to a max of $3000 over the term. If you then top that up with the AU plan, you’ll get coverage of up to 70% of the total cost, up to a max of $1000 for the year. Put those two together, and they’ll cover the full cost of the prescription, meaning you don’t have to pay a cent. And when your U of C coverage expires in the summer, you’ll still have the 70% coverage from your AUSU course the next time the doctor sends you to get some antibiotics or other pills.

Are there any other benefits?
The full list of benefits can be found at https://www.mystudentplan.ca/athabasca/en/home and you can use their live help function if you have specific questions about the coverage, but one of the more important things to know is that Gallivan & Associates will help you to find low cost options for doctors, physiotherapists, prescriptions, dentists, or whatever it is you need so that you can maximize your benefit coverage.

When I go to that site, it says that it doesn’t start until December 1, 2014. What gives?
Because of how the timing for contracts and that kind of thing has worked out, these first few months are going to be a little bit different, with coverage starting as of December 1, 2014, although you can enroll for it right away. Once the program has started, then students who register by the 10th of a month for their second course in a twelve-month period will have coverage start at the beginning of the next month, typically when their course starts. If You’re one of those rare people who like to pre-enroll several months in advance, your coverage starts in the month following when you pre-enroll, no matter when your course actually starts.

What if I finish my course early? Or take extensions?
The coverage lasts for a year from when you enroll. When you finish doesn’t matter.

I have kids. Can I get them covered too?
Yes. But there are extra fees to doing so. Enrolling one extra member of your family, a spouse or dependent, will cost an additional $325/year. If you have even more children in the family, then a final additional payment of $325/year will cover all of them. So a total payment of $975 will provide coverage for all of your dependents and your spouse.

I can only afford a single course per year, and I could really use some help with physiotherapist bills, can I get coverage?
Unfortunately, no. You need to have registered in at least two courses over a twelve-month period. That’s as low as the insurer was willing to go to provide a student rate. When you consider that for most universities insurers simply don’t allow part-time students to participate at all this seems an excellent deal for AU students.

Also, remember you don’t have to take the two courses at the same time, so long as both enrollment dates are within a twelve-month period. This means thatif you last enrolled in January of this year, then so long as you manage to enroll for December of this year, you’re eligible for coverage under this plan.

How long will this plan be offered?
It’s hoped that it will be offered for the foreseeable future. In many ways this is going to be a testing period for Gallivan & Associates to see if they can generate enough interest to make money from it. They realize that not just Athabasca University, but a lot of schools are starting to look at distance education, and currently there aren’t really any good plans out there that can handle the variety of students, locations, and options that distance education students need. If this goes over well, you can expect that the coverage may improve and the costs come down as they roll it out to other institutions as well.

Is AUSU leaning on you to advertise this for them?
Nope. I mean, I know they want to see it succeed, but this is something I genuinely think is a good deal for students. Good enough that I’m seriously considering enrolling in it myself, just to top up my current insurance.