Protect KU International Students: No more health coverage delay and lack of communication

Protect KU International Students: No more health coverage delay and lack of communication

0 have signed. Let’s get to 500!
At 500 signatures, this petition is more likely to be featured in recommendations!

Fernanda Oda started this petition to The University of Kansas and

International students are required to maintain health insurance coverage. This can be imposed by federal regulations and from universities. Health insurance for International students at the University of Kansas (KU) is mandatory. Currently (August 1st – September 16th 2020), all KU International students are studying/conducting research/teaching in-person WITH NO ACTIVE HEALTH INSURANCE DURING A PANDEMIC. KU international students who paid for coverage WERE NOT INFORMED ABOUT THE DELAY ON COVERAGE that was supposed to be effective starting on August 1st. This lack of effective coverage came to our attention when we were sick, needed medication, needed health services, and/or had a medical emergency during the Aug 1st-Sept 16th 2020 period. This is unacceptable. We demand a documented plan of action from KU to solve coverage delay processing and actual change to ensure active coverage for all KU international students for all semesters. We demand clear communication about insurance coverage and access to health services for all international students.
 
Please help protect all KU international students by signing this petition. Please share this petition so more people hear about this serious issue. Thank you! #protectinternationalstudents
 

---

Although it is advertised that effective day for coverage for the Fall semester starts on August 1st, international students are currently with no active and effective coverage for more than 45 days – and will continue to not have an active coverage until the end of September. International students were not notified about this coverage delay. This lack of effective coverage came to our attention when we were sick, needed to buy medication, needed health services, and/or had a medical emergency during the Aug 1st-Sept 16th 2020 period. When we contacted UnitedHealthCare StudentResources (UHCSR) insurance early in September (KU’s provider), they informed us that they did not receive information from KU about our membership yet (although we paid through KU); therefore, international students do not have a membership according to UHCSR. When we contacted KU International Support Services (ISS), they confirmed they did not send information on our coverage to UHCSR yet, and that ISS and other KU offices finalizes this process usually by Sept 18th. This delay seems to be part of their protocol for all fall semesters. However, students were not informed about this coverage delay. In addition, we are experiencing a COVID-19 pandemic. It is unacceptable to not have coverage we paid and to not be notified about this delay. We list below actions for change we demand from KU, KU ISS, and any other KU offices involved on ensuring effective health insurance for international students:
 
(1) To expedite the process to ensure all international students have easy and clear access to health services starting August the 1st for current and future fall semesters (applicable to spring and summer if this is an issue too). 
          (a) According to ISS, insurance processing is different when comparing international and domestic students. Domestic processing is individualized, and students can have faster access to insurance as they pay for it through KU. In contrast, international processing takes, at least, 49 days. According to ISS, it involves other KU offices, including ECI and HRM). However, there are several reasons (e.g., health, emergencies in a foreign country, legal issues, lack of resources/option, financial barriers, etc.) to believe that coverage must be guaranteed as soon as possible for those who paid for it on time. These offices would need to coordinate better and earlier in the semester, even if it implies significant systemic changes in the communication between offices and/or payment/waiver deadline requirements for students. 
       (b) Insurance processing for one international student is dependent on processing for all international students. That is, ISS contacts UHCSR only after payment deadline (Sept. 15th for the fall semester) to provide them (usually by Sept. 18th) a list for all international students. This is different for domestic students - according to UHCSR, they receive weekly emails from KU to activate insurance, but international students are not included until late September. Implication of this includes having a large group of international students who paid for services (sometimes beginning of July, or early August) but do not have access to it until late September, because another group of students did not submit payment or is experiencing waiver processing issues. However, there are several reasons to believe that a more individualized (or small group) system can be more effective in order to provide coverage to as many students as possible. Accessibility to this health service for the majority as soon as possible should be the norm. Currently, there is no accessibility to all international students. That it, the current system makes services unavailable to all students for a long period.
 
(2) In case coverage is delayed, this delay should be as short as possible. Waiting 49 days for KU to communicate with UHCSR is a very extended period. Currently, we are paying for a 5 month coverage (>$900 with increase), but we are covered only 68% (i.e., 49 days not covered = 32% of total coverage) of the whole period - assuming UHCSR activates our insurance immediately as they receive the email from KU. If a delay from UHCSR is expected, this should be clearly informed - and should be shortened too, as possible. 
 
(3) In case coverage is delayed, this delay should be communicated clearly. If delay is expected (as part of the process) even before the beginning of the semester, this delay should be communicated before students purchase the health insurance. According to the ISS website, it is advertised that effective coverage starts on Aug. 1st. However, if we can't have access to services because we are not members, we are not actually covered. If we need to activate it for the Aug 1st- Sept 18 period, we are not actually covered. This delay should be communicated prior to payment and also during the "coverage" period. 
 
(4) In case coverage is delayed, KU should inform us clearly about ways to have access to health services while the coverage is delayed/inactive. We were informed, from multiple KU sources, that international students could have services from Watkins Health Services in case we needed. However, Watkins is not always open (i.e., not before 8am/after 5pm on weekdays, not on Saturdays before noon/after 4pm, not open on Sundays). Also, there are students who don't have easy access to Watkins (e.g., don't live close to campus, not in Lawrence, no transportation, etc.). Watkins can't be the only option during this uncovered period. In the last month, students who did not have access to Watkins went to other clinics/pharmacies thinking they were covered. Then, they were informed by them that they did not have coverage and were asked to pay out-of-the pocket. Paying out-of-the pocket after having paid more than $900 for health coverage is not easy, especially during a pandemic. Information about reimbursements/claims should also be available for international students.
 
(5) In case coverage is delayed, KU should inform us clearly about ways to have access to emergency health services while the coverage is delayed/inactive. Just "call 911" is not enough. ISS has ways to "activate" a coverage during the effective coverage period. This is information, however, is not on the ISS website. This "activation" should be informed, should be clearly stated, and should be fast. First, it is unreasonable to request students to activate something that should be active already. Second, it is problematic that students do not know that their coverage is not active when they are told they are covered. Third, it is a huge problem that there is lack of information on how to activate it in case you need. Fourth, given that this would be an emergency, it is problematic to know that this process is not fast. Also, if this is through ISS, how would this work in case ISS is not able to receive this information and/or process it immediately? All these should be informed and described before an emergency occurs. Finally, this activation should not be used as a norm. This emergency activation during active period should not really exist. What should be change is having coverage during the whole coverage period. However, if an "emergency activation" is needed, it should be as effective as possible.

Please help protect all KU international students by signing this petition. Please share this petition so more people hear about this serious issue. Thank you! #protectinternationalstudents

0 have signed. Let’s get to 500!
At 500 signatures, this petition is more likely to be featured in recommendations!