Health and dental plan for CSU is in the works

To the joy of many students, the Capilano Students’ Union (CSU) is in the process of arranging a health and dental care referendum.

"We've been working on this since last year," says David Clarkson, the head of the Health and Dental Working Group, "and the goal is to have the referendum approved by the fall ... but there is a lot of work to be done both until then and after then."
Photo by Stefan Tosheff
Currently, they are undergoing the process of a searching for a consultant, and have narrowed it down to two companies: Student Care and Gallivan & Associates. As these companies are both insurance providers there is also a chance that, beyond providing consultation, they may also become our providers.
“Basically, if we have a strong working relationship with them, it will help their chances down the road,” says Clarkson.
Last week, these two companies came to give presentations at health and dental forums, open to whomever in the student body wished to come. If you were not among those who attended, here is quick summary of the two companies’ presentations.

Student Care

Student Care is a privately owned business that was started up 10 years ago by students, specifically for students. They currently supply 53 universities across Canada with health and dental plans, including close-to-home UBC, SFU and the University of Victoria. Because of their extensive work in the student health insurance field, they have a very broad network in the insurance world and also have much experience to draw on. They have built up a strong network of over 250 businesses that, on top of the insurance coverage offered, give additional savings to students. Their Metro Vancouver network is actually already quite strongly built up because they already supply two local universities with healthcare.
One of their strengths lies in their strong communications team, which has won two awards. In their years of experience, they have developed a highly efficient strategy of information distribution that utilizes various media, including call centres, on-campus and on-line awareness campaigns and widespread distribution of informational materials such as brochures and pamphlets. They "are constantly getting feedback from students" through various forms of outreach and surveys and claim to be "one of the only companies that does this on a semi-systematic basis.”
Another aspect of their company that the Student Care representatives stressed was their flexibility. They used the metaphor of the range of different services they provide (consulting, communications, providing insurance, etc.) being like a menu where "you can pick what you want, but you don't have to eat everything."
They also pride themselves on their fees being based on a flat rate, rather than on a percentage of how much you spend. "I remember being on the student government and having representatives pushing the highest costing plans at me because the more I spent, the bigger their commission was," says company founder and executive director Lev Bukhman. "That's why when I created this company, we decided not to run things on that basis."

Gallivan & Associates

Gallivan & Associates, a small publicly traded business based out of Waterloo, Ontario, also has extensive experience working with students, having dealt with them exclusively since 1996. In 2010, they cover over 160,000 students in 32 different schools. Two-thirds of their clientele is based out of Western Canada, and the BC schools currently subscribing to their plans include Kwantlen, BCIT and Okanagan College.
Like Student Care, they also have the capability to build up a strong network of businesses willing to give additional discounts to students. They have already started looking into Capilano-area businesses to scope out the situation. They also make the unique promise that any business that they bring into the network will not be under any contract obliging them specifically to G&A. This means that if we end up choosing another company to be our provider, these businesses will not be cut off completely from our possible network.
Gallivan & Associates were concerned strongly with communication, with a primary focus on their on-campus presence, citing the success of on-site offices in the other schools they have provided for. They were extremely enthusiastic about doing outrageous things to grab students’ attention: “We will wear ugly green shirts! ...We’ve done things like bring a two-by-four into the school and get everyone to sign it, to advocate student awareness,” said the enthusiastic Cory Wright, national director of G&A.
They also have a mobile application that was developed not only to send out information about your student health and dental plan, but is also tailored specifically to your student union and can be used to send out useful information, such as important event and election dates.
“We knew that a health and dental app alone wouldn’t be sexy enough to download,” said Wright.
One negative aspect of G&A is that their website is slightly less user-friendly than Student Care’s. However, the website interface that they pulled up for their slide show was completely different and seemed very user-friendly, indicating that they are possibly undergoing the process of updating their web presence.
If you are interested, you can find out more about the two companies by visiting their respective websites, and, and by checking out the types of plans that their clients enjoy.
The next Health and Dental Committee meeting, where the two forums will be further discussed, is on Tuesday, Oct. 19 at 11:45 am in the CSU back office. A decision about which company the CSU will be working with in the consultation process for the referendum will be decided at an upcoming committee meeting.

//Celina Kurz

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