The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

October 20, 2013

WVU to require students to have health insurance

The Associated Press

MORGANTOWN — Beginning in 2014, West Virginia University will require students to have health insurance, one of several changes that the school is making to its student health operation.

Another change will move student health care employees to University Health Associates, the clinical operation for the medical and dental schools, which will run student health. UHA operates Urgent Care in the Suncrest Towne Centre.

About 35 employees will be affected by the transfers that will occur Jan. 1, Cathy Yura, assistant vice president of student wellness, told The Dominion Post.

Yura said human resources representatives and administrators are meeting with employees to work through issues and find solutions.

One issue is retirement. State employees, such as those who work at WVU, fall under the Public Employees Insurance Agency plan, which allows workers to accrue service time that can be used for items such as paying for health-insurance benefits when they retire. That wouldn’t be the case if employees are with University Health Associates.

“Change isn’t easy,” WVU spokeswoman Becky Lofstead told the newspaper. “WVU is doing all it can to be fair to employees.”

The student health insurance requirement will be implemented by the fall of 2014, she said.

Lofstead said the university has studied changing its student health operation for several years due to the wellness strategic plan that the Board of Governors adapted.

The student health facility will expand its hours and will see people from the community, along with students. A new facility that WVU is building on the Evansdale campus will still feature student health operations, such as wellness awareness and help programs and mental health care, Yura said.

A health fee that students pay as part of their student fees will remain with the insurance requirement. Yura said some of the money is used for operations beyond student health care.

About 85 percent of students have some form of health insurance, she said.