University President says health fee is “for the common good”
Cornell University students are obviously smart enough to know they shouldn’t have to pay a penalty for not buying the school’s health insurance if they already have coverage, but that’s exactly what a new policy at the Ivy League school requires.
The $350 “health fee” for opting out of the school’s insurance plan was announced in a memo from school President David Skorton, who is also a medical doctor. It was posted Feb. 5, on Cornell’s website, according to higher education blog The College Fix. But the implications are just beginning to sink in with the student body, and many attending the Ithaca, N.Y., school are now staging protests. Under Obama’s Affordable Care Act, students must have insurance, but making those already covered pay an extra fee to skip the school’s plan is rightly getting them riled.
According to Skorton, the fee will affect approximately 70% of undergrads, 10% of graduate students, and 30% of professional students. Given the number of students in each of these categories, it is expected to raise about $3.9 million. Additionally, students will have a $10 co-pay for visits to the campus’ health center.
In his statement Skorton noted that Cornell’s health services funding has been “strained” in light of “rising health insurance costs.” His email cites “inequitable access to care” as the reason for introducing this student health fee.
Students who do not opt in to the $2,352 plan will get hit with the $350 fee, which “most likely” won’t be covered by financial aid, according to The Cornell Review. The newspaper said the university plan is run through Aetna, whose CEO is a Cornell MBA grad.
This gut-punch is Skorton’s parting gift to Cornell’s students. The Smithsonian Institution’s Board of Regents named him to lead the world’s largest museum and research complex. He will assume his new post July 2015.
“David Skorton has demonstrated keen vision and skilled leadership as the president of two great American universities,” Supreme Court Chief Justice and Smithsonian Chancellor John Roberts lauded in a statement. “His character, experience and talents are an ideal match for the Smithsonian’s broad and dynamic range of interests, endeavors and aspirations.”
It would be interesting to know what percentage of these now protesting Ivy Leaguers voted for Barack Obama —- and if those who did would do so again.