CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Dillon Tucker, a student at West Virginia University, has been going through college without health insurance. Next year, though, WVU will require him to be covered and will offer him a plan through the university that is tailored to students.
"I have mixed emotions about it, because money is hard, especially when you're a student and paying for college on your own," he said. "But not having insurance is a very scary thing. It makes you nervous when you start to feel like you're getting sick. To be honest, there have been several times when I was sick but I pushed through, because I knew I couldn't afford the huge bills."
Tucker, a finance major from Winfield, is among the 15 percent of WVU students who have no form of health insurance.
The new student health insurance requirement will be implemented by fall 2014, in compliance with the Affordable Care Act, and while 85 percent of WVU students have some form of insurance, the school's Student Government Association is working to better inform the smaller percentage that is still confused about how the policy will affect them.
Ryan Campione, WVU's student body president, said that when he talks to students around campus, there is uncertainty.
"For students who don't have insurance, they're concerned. Because it's such a complex issue, there's a lot of worry right now. They want to know how they'll be affected," Campione said. "This is going to help students by simplifying a very complicated issue and offering a one-stop shop. There are going to be a lot more resources available -- a whole support network."
The new system will offer all WVU students without insurance an affordable plan through Aetna Student Health but will not require students to select that particular plan, according to Cathy Yura, WVU's assistant vice president for student wellness.
WVU employees also will direct interested students to state resources that can help them find other suitable insurance plans, Yura said.
Aetna's plan costs $1,542 each year, with deductibles ranging from $150 for WVU-based care to $500 for preferred care.