Extend health insurance coverage for class of 2020

Extend health insurance coverage for class of 2020

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The class of 2020 will be graduating into an astronomical, unprecedented recession. Over 20 million Americans have filed for unemployment, and last week alone, a mean of roughly 29% of Minnesotan businesses either closed or reduced operations. Some 57 percent of Americans are worried about losing their jobs, 46 percent have seen their hours or income reduced and one-third believe that if they do lose their job, they will need additional education to find a comparable one, according to this survey

The changes in the availability and affordability of health insurance is unprecedented, as well. Roughly 30% of undergraduates are 25 years of age or older, and will not be eligible for their parent's continued insurance benefits upon graduation in 2020. Furthermore, Wakely, in partnership with American Health Insurance Plans, estimated the costs to the health care system (including costs to private health care insurers) could range from $56 billion to $556 billion in the next two years due to COVID-19. Months before the pandemic, the Kaiser Family Foundation found that the cost of health insurance was expected to rise by 5% in 2020 alone; with the complications of our pandemic, that rise is inestimable. 


The University of Minnesota has a history of protecting the health and rights of its students, via comprehensive student health benefit plans and disability accommodations, and it should continue to excel in its mission to provide support to the students who chose to spend their time and money in enrolling to become a part of the community. The Office of Student Health Benefits has reached out to the spring graduates of 2020 with an option to extend their health insurance coverage by a meager week until August 30, which will cost an additional $221, but this is not enough. In 2017, 72% of recent graduates stated that finding adequate and affordable health insurance is a challenge. Today, students are graduating without the financial resources, job availability, and household security necessary to afford health insurance, all in the additional stress of a deadly pandemic. Historically, an estimated 25% higher risk of death has been found in uninsured adults, and updated studies indicate that having insurance decreases the odds of dying among adults by at least 3% and as much as 29%. It is time for the University of Minnesota to lead by example and protect their students. Extend the buy-in options for spring 2020 until the end of the calendar year, and make the extension equal to the cost of a full semester of coverage for undergraduates.