Dependent Coverage in Student Health Insurance Plans

The Daily Californian's lead editorial today decries the announced termination of dependent coverage in Berkeley's Student Health Insurance Plan (SHIP) effective this fall. The rationale is simply that even voluntary dependent coverage is expensive and that the University would rather these families seek dependent coverage through California's Healthy Families Program, Medi-Cal, or the California Exchange.

So, just what is it about the 200 of the 23,000 enrollees in SHIP that makes these dependents such a cost-savings bonanza to eliminate? Here's what The Daily Californian reports:

        But for those whose incomes disqualify them from Medi-Cal or whose families need specific health         care packages that cover expensive and up-to-date treatments, the change can be frustrating.

How frustrating? Try too rich for Medi-Cal and unable to buy through California's Exchange with subsidies, frustrated. Or, try undocumented and a stranger to the Affordable Care Act, frustrated. Or, try, guessing most of those excess expenses went for maternity care, frustrated.

Now, Berkeley is the jewel in the system's crown. And other UC locations continue to offer dependent coverage in SHIP. Is it worse that the most exclusive of the campuses makes it incrementally harder for those with dependents to move forward economically?  Or, would it be even worse if all the UC campuses decided that students with dependents — overwhelmingly lower income students — were expendable as well? Oh, and it is women who are overwhelmingly more likely to be balancing their roles as parents and students.

Now, the relationship between the Berkeley campus and the system wide SHIP program has been fraught, but leading the way to screening student mothers out of Berkeley's student body is hardly a beacon of light.

What would a genuine student-parent success initiative look like? Not like this.

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