Unless students are willing to lose some of their current benefits, Langara College’s health and dental plan might get more expensive.
The Langara Students’ Union (LSU) is holding a referendum on whether to increase the current price of its health plan from $200 to $235 a year. The union is also seeking approval to increase the fee by up to five per cent a year to match inflation.
“If the referendum doesn’t pass, it would mean that some plan benefits would need to be cut, both on the health and dental side,” said Sophia Haque, Langara’s Student Care program manager.
Students are willing to pay
Almost 80 per cent of students surveyed last year said they would be in favour of increasing the plan fee in order to maintain or increase benefits, said Haque.
“This gave the LSU a strong mandate,” she said. “Students don’t want to see benefits cut, and they’d rather pay a little bit more to keep them.”
Benefits are relatively cheap at Langara
The LSU currently has one of the lowest prices in the province for its health and dental plan. The University of the Fraser Valley and Simon Fraser University also have low fees, but both schools will be holding a similar referendum this year.
Goodbye Sun Life, hello Blue Cross
In order to keep the price of the plan down, the LSU switched from Sun Life Financial to Pacific Blue Cross last year.
“This well-timed strategy ensured LSU was getting the best competitive rates and allowed LSU to switch to a local, non-profit insurance company,” said Haque. “The switch saved students nearly $70,000.”
$235 a year is cheaper than private insurance
Haque said that even with the proposed fee increase, the plan is a good deal. “If a student was to go purchase individual health insurance, it would cost upwards of $1,900 a year to get a similar level of benefits.”
Not all students are on board
“I’m not happy that [prices] are going up,” said Jade Ouach, a health and sciences student. “School is already so expensive.”
The LSU’s health plan was first approved in 2005, and the price has not increased since it was brought in.
“In fact, in 2006, the LSU was able to reduce the plan fee from $218 to $199.98 and put those funds towards building the Student Union Building that is up and running today,” said Haque.
All full-time students who are LSU members registered in the fall semester are automatically covered by the health and dental plan. The fee is only charged in September, so students who started attending Langara in January must choose to opt-in if they wish to be covered.
Reported by Puneet Dhami