New Jersey Senate Bill 2291 which amends NJSA 18A:62-15 was signed into law by Governor Christie on July 5, 2013. The amendments eliminate the previous state requirement that every student who is enrolled full-time at a public or private institution of higher education in New Jersey maintain health insurance coverage which provides basic hospital benefits. The amendments also eliminate the previous requirement that every full-time student annually present evidence of health insurance coverage and other provisions related to the health insurance coverage requirement. Any requirements for health insurance coverage imposed at the federal level by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) would still be applicable. The changes to the law maintain the requirement that all institutions of higher education in New Jersey offer health insurance coverage for purchase by students who are enrolled full-time.
The amended law does not change how the student health insurance coverage offered by the University is handled by the insurance company or the federal requirements under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. In meeting the requirement that the University offer health insurance coverage for purchase by students who are enrolled full-time, the University’s current student health insurance offering is underwritten by UnitedHealthcare and was established as a “hard waiver” policy. This type of policy has a substantially lower premium cost than a “voluntary” enrollment policy having the same benefits. The “hard waiver” policy requires full-time students to have and present evidence of insurance in order to be able to waive/opt out of the coverage. So while the NJ law may no longer detail specific obligations of the University and its students, the insurance policy chosen and offered by the University still requires every full-time student to annually present evidence of health insurance coverage if they wish to waive.
As detailed in communications from the University about the new health insurance coverage offering and the waiver/enrollment process, this is the same plan being offered by the New Jersey State Colleges and Universities system. The cost for this insurance is automatically added to the term bill for all full-time students and students who do not waive the coverage by the dates required are obligated to pay the full amount of the insurance on their term bill. Please note that the entire cost paid by each student is a pass through to the insurance company and William Paterson University derives no financial benefits from the premium charged.
While about 20% of the students in the New Jersey State Colleges and University system are not covered by health insurance from another source and need to purchase the sponsored plan, by offering a “hard waiver” policy and including the premium for the student health insurance on the term bill those students who are in need of the coverage are able to get better rates and can receive financial aid to help defray the cost of the insurance.
We recognize that the approximately 80% of our students who are fortunate enough to have health insurance coverage and who may wish to waive are inconvenienced by having to go through the waiver process. We have made the process of waiving the insurance as easy and convenient as possible by having students complete the waiver forms at the William Paterson University’s link at http://www.firststudent.com. On behalf of your classmates who need the insurance, we thank you for your understanding that this slight inconvenience allows them to purchase affordable health insurance coverage.
Questions about the plan coverage can be directed to www.firststudent.com or by phone at 1-800-505-4160.
Questions about the Enrollment and Waiver process can be directed to Student Enrollment Services at 973-720-3945 or by email at email@example.com.