Just last week, WVU's Student Health Center referred 48 students to various medical clinics, according to Yura.
"Without insurance, these medical bills could create a financial burden that could alter a student's ability to continue to take classes. Even common health issues can alter finances -- as well as time -- for students," Yura said. "Young adults often do not think they will get ill, but we know that there are accidents and medical conditions that can drastically change their plans."
The insurance requirement is in addition to several changes to WVU's student health services, including a partnership with WVU Urgent Care and the creation of a new wellness facility.
WVU is the first college in the state to actually require students to sign up for insurance, but the Higher Education Policy Commission began offering college students a plan through its schools in July.
HEPC Commissioner Paul Hill said the commission saw "an unmet need at our public institutions" when it came to health care.
"Students face hosts of financial hurdles during their college years," Hill said, "and without health coverage, even one minor health issue can cause insurmountable hardships and impact a student's ability to complete their studies."
The HEPC decision was first discussed in 2012 and was the result of issues that were voiced to the commission by the State Advisory Council of Students, which called for more health-care options offered by West Virginia's colleges.
"The intent was to offer students an optional insurance product at the lowest possible price and to allow each campus to offer features based on their unique needs," Hill said of the statewide plan. "This conversation at the commission came about independently from national health reform, under which our student plan is simply one of the options available for coverage."
Reach Mackenzie Mays at mackenzie.m...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-4814.