PSU Grad Students Worried About Rising Health Care Costs

By Mallory Lane

Published 03/27 2014 06:17PM

Updated 03/27 2014 06:37PM

PENN STATE, UNIVERSITY PARK - Some Penn State graduate students are voicing their concern over the changing health care policies provided by the university.

Students said they just learned of the changes last month, but the university has been discussing the matter since this past September.

Some students said if the costs of the new health policy go up as much as Penn State is saying they are, they may have to transfer or drop out because they simply can't afford it.

"I'm a single parent. I have two children and it just doesn't seem feasible," Penn State graduate student, Enica Castaneda said.

Castaneda is worried. Now, as a single mother of two and a graduate student, she's paying $150 per month to cover her kids on her health insurance, plus $46 for herself.

But that could change.

"It would go up by almost twice that for the upcoming year," she said. "I can't see that coming out of our budget on a monthly basis."

The proposed plan will increase student premiums by nearly $1,000. Those students with spouses and children will see even more of an increase.

Right now, students with health care through Penn State have 100% coverage. The new plan only covers 90%, meaning the annual deductible for an individual will change from $75 to $250. The cost will nearly double for Castaneda and her children, from $225 to $500.

Fellow grad student Azita Ranjbar is concerned, too, but about more than just the change. She said a lot of students are mad they weren't told sooner.

"Penn State is trying to move on to a new culture of transparency and inclusion, particularly as we move from President Erickson to our new president," she said. "We would like to communicate that we would like to encourage Penn State to be very transparent, very open with sharing information."

Penn State said they are aware of these concerns. In a statement Thursday, they said. "The value and contributions of graduate students to the university's research, teaching and outreach mission are immeasurable." They also said they're working on solutions.

Castaneda said the best result?

"Ideally, there wouldn't be a price change," she said. "There would be no net loss to graduate students, that's the ideal."

The Graduate Student Association will be meeting on campus Thursday night to discuss their concerns.

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