Upon becoming a registered and enrolled student at Bellevue College, international students are required to have insurance. Not only is the international student insurance pricey, but it doesn’t cover basic trips to regular health providers. Maria Chebanova, Associated Student Government vice president of Student Affairs and Pluralism, is looking towards getting better international student health insurance in the near future.
As of right now, Chebanova is still in the research process and has begun talking to International Student Programs about the lack of care the international student insurance provides. Annually, the cost for international student insurance is $1,152. It must be paid in four installments, one installment per quarter, which comes down to $288 per quarter out of every international student’s pockets. Without paying the fee for the international student insurance, those students would not be allowed to take the classes that they signed up for.
As of right now, the coverage under the international student insurance has no variety. “For the most part it only covers emergency cases, like if you’re dying or something, and even then you still have to pay 50 percent,” said Chebanova. BC international students have actually had to go back to their home country in order to get the care that they need for health problems that were not life-or-death situations.
The new insurance that Chebanova is trying to secure wouldn’t be much cheaper, but it would cover much more and would allow students to get the medical care they need. According to the BC website, the coverage that international students are receiving now doesn’t cover vision or dental. Whatever doctor the international students want to see has to accept Firebird International Group, LLC. Additionally, even if a student comes to America with health insurance that they purchased from their own country, BC will not waive the $288 quarterly medical insurance fee.
“I want to give people the option. It’s more beneficial to get an insurance that covers more for the same amount of money,” said Chebanova. As far as those supporting the move towards a heftier coverage under international student insurance, Chebanova has a group of international students and members of ASG on her side.
According to Linda Annable, an ISP international student life coordinator, ISP is constantly working towards providing better care for international students. Currently, ISP is trying to find dental and vision coverage, but the cost is what is hindering them from providing it to students. As the international student insurance is now in compliance with the Affordable Care Act, a few things will be changing.
Preexisting conditions will no longer be an issue for students starting in September. Another big change to international student’s insurance is that they will be covered for vaccinations, which will be given to them at no cost. Previously, students were given a one free appointment a year but they had to be ill to even use that free doctor’s visit. Now they are able to go in for a regular check-up once a year for free, sick or not.
Both Chebanova and ISP plan to try and develop the international student insurance into something more beneficial for students. However, Annable claims, “we now have better care for our students than we ever have before.”