All full-time Penn State students, except those enrolled in World Campus, will be required to have health insurance coverage beginning in fall 2019.
"The university is increasingly concerned about students without adequate health insurance. Many students do not seek health care when needed because of a lack of health insurance," Penn State said in a press release.
Full-time students universitywide will need to be able to provide proof of health insurance coverage that "meets certain criteria" or they'll be required to buy the Penn State Student Health Insurance Plan, according to the university. (International students are already required to have "adequate" health insurance.)
According to Penn State, the annual rate for 2018-19 individual plan coverage through SHIP is $2,619.
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The release said that "the university recognizes that this requirement may pose a financial challenge for some students and has begun identifying financial support resources for students with need."
Examples of the resources that the university is considering include: University Health Services working to add a social worker who can help students navigate the financial impact of having health insurance; identifying financial aid options; and working to increase financial literacy education for students, Shea Bracken, director of communications for Student Affairs, said in an email.
He said funding options will be available for students based on need through the traditional financial aid process.
According to the university release, UHS has been collecting health insurance information from students for the past several years.
Several hundred students each year are "surprised" to learn that their insurance doesn't cover what they need or restricts their access to doctors or hospitals, according to UHS.
Penn State's data finds that an estimated 10 percent of students are uninsured or underinsured when enrolling at the university, Bracken said.
There were 70,321 full-time undergraduate and 6,945 graduate students enrolled at Penn State universitywide in fall 2017 (excluding World Campus students), according to Penn State. That means about 7,700 were uninsured or underinsured.
The health insurance requirement will be rolled out in two phases: The first will be launched this summer when all full-time students will be asked to complete an online health insurance collection form, according to the press release. By doing so, students can learn whether their current health insurance policy will meet the requirement for fall 2019.
Effective fall 2019, the university will enroll full-time students in the Penn State SHIP at the beginning of each academic year, the release said. At that time, students who already have appropriate health insurance can waive the coverage.
Penn State describes the SHIP as a "platinum-level health insurance plan with a low deductible and a capped out-of-pocket maximum."
The university offers the plan through United Healthcare.