Dude, where's my health and dental plan?

The Health and Dental Plan Working Group, a subcommittee of the Capilano Students’ Union has made some significant advancements in their insurance consultant selection for the proposed health and dental plan at Capilano University. After a series of meetings and presentations from two different shortlisted providers, the CSU Executive Committee, on behalf of recommendations from the Health and Dental Plan Working Group, has appointed Student Care as their official consultant, to assist in initiating a referendum. Although no formal reasons were listed as to why Student Care was chosen over Gallivan & Associates, “The consensus is that at this time Student Care would best able to help us as consultant,” says David Clarkson, chairperson for the Health and Dental Plan Working Group. Student Care covers many major post-secondary institutions in British Columbia, including UBC, the University of Victoria and SFU. “It really came down to a confidence in them to help us through our confirmation process,” says Clarkson. It took the working group three meetings to look over dozens of applications before they made their final recommendation, a process which Clarkson describes as difficult, and one which the committees involved did not take lightly. He goes on to describe that what was, and still is needed, is a health insurance broker with experience and who is able to lend expertise to the committee, which he added has perhaps now been found.

Currently, no concrete proposals concerning the details of what the plan will include have been made. At such an early stage in the planning, the working group are unable to make promises to students, such as what the plan will include, when it will be implemented, and how much it will cost. “We’re not even really sure of what’s happening, so it’s hard for us to advertise. I don’t want to tell people there might be a health and dental insurance plan next fall when there might not be,” explains Clarkson. An insurance plan will only be introduced if it passes via referendum, as is required under CSU bylaws.

There are, however, rough estimates available to give students an idea of what can be expected: an amount ranging from 200 to 300 dollars to be paid with tuition fees, specialized benefits depending on the demands of students, and the potential health and dental insurance will be determined by a survey, which is expected to be released in January 2011 at the earliest. The survey will be used as a means of consultation, by allowing students to express what they wish to see as part of their insurance plan. The survey will also serve students by familiarizing them with the process for the upcoming referendum.

The approximate date for the referendum is projected to be March 2011, two months following the execution of the survey. “The benefit of the survey is that it helps us evaluate the needs and wants of students in order to have a successful referendum – it doesn’t make sense to go straight to referendum if we don’t know if our students even want a health and dental plan,” explains Kelsey Didlick, Social Justice Coordinator for the CSU. The referendum would possibly occur in conjunction with the CSU Executive Committee elections, through a ballot process where students would vote in favour of or against the proposed health and dental insurance plan. This procedure is necessary as stated in the CSU bylaws, since “students need to express their desire for a health and dental plan that would increase tuition costs,” added Didlick.

Depending on the results of the referendum, the next steps to take in the process of implementing health and dental coverage are to build an infrastructure of the insurance plan, start a possible binding process between providers and finally negotiate a contract. This contract would be discussed on both a student and administrator level, as health and dental insurance would be a service offered by the CSU, but that could not happen without the university’s consent. So far, Student Care has been appointed to the role of consultant to facilitate the survey process, meaning that the company has not been hired as a carrier for the upcoming referendum. This has created some confusion on behalf of both Student Care and the Health and Dental Plan Working Group, which is possibly due to miscommunication between the CSU and Student Care, over the role of Student Care in this process. The last working group meeting ended in an overall feeling that further discussion needs to take place in order to clarify Student Care’s role. The suggestion of carrying the health and dental insurance plan survey independently from an insurance company was also brought up, however no in-depth discussion has taken place on this possibility.

Although a health and dental plan for the CSU members is in an investigatory stage, students can count on the actual process taking place. The Health and Dental Working Group holds regular meetings, which are open-structure and available to all interested students wishing to attend.

“This is one of the bigger, if not the biggest service that this school can offer its students. Now that we’re a university we need to start offering students university services, and that includes a health and dental plan,” says Didlick. More information can be found on the CSU’s website, as well as on Facebook and in previous editions of the Courier.

// Adélie Houle-Lachance, Writer

//graphic by Natahsha Prakash

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© 2011 The Capilano Courier. phone: 604.984.4949 fax: 604.984.1787 email: