A Letter from the Director of Vaden Health Center



February 2010

Dear Student,

This letter outlines changes in student health insurance beginning Fall 2010. These changes are the result of close work with students and staff over the past several years. Our objective is to provide access to quality services and to keep costs affordable. I think we have achieved that, although it won’t surprise you to learn that meeting those goals is challenging in the current health care environment.

The changes are complex, so I hope you will give them close attention. The insurance plan changes don’t affect everyone equally, but the vast majority of students will benefit.

We will be offering students a dependent health insurance plan for their families. The coverage will be simple to obtain, affordable, free of exclusions for pre-existing conditions and provide security.

For next year, the annual premium for Cardinal Care will decrease by 4%.

Cardinal Care will become an annual enrollment plan, similar to the plans at most universities. All students need continuous insurance coverage without gaps. While the majority of students in Cardinal Care are covered for the whole year, others are uninsured while on a leave of absence or during a break in their studies or immediately after graduation. Automatic annual enrollment will go a long way toward removing the risk of high medical bills for uninsured students.

Cardinal Care will be required for all international students. Most international students are already covered by Cardinal Care. Those who are not often find themselves facing the unfortunate consequences of inadequate coverage when they need off-campus health care. This is particularly true for mental health treatment. Cardinal Care will now provide a safety net for those students.

These changes in Cardinal Care enrollment were specifically recommended by the Student Mental Health and Well Being Task Force in its October 2008 report.

Cardinal Care is a very comprehensive plan with liberal benefits, but we understand that paying the premium is a stretch for many students. We have learned that students prefer to pay a bit more at the time of service if that helps reduce the up-front premium costs. For next year we have decreased the premium cost in exchange for a modestly higher copayment for a specialist visit ($20 instead of $10).

Students will still be well covered when away from the Stanford area. We are switching Cardinal Care to a two-tiered plan (from the current three-tiered plan), which accrues a cost savings without affecting the vast majority of students in the plan. If you are in a geographic area without a “network” provider you will continue to be covered at “in-network” rates.

Finally, transgender surgical treatment is an important treatment option, and we are pleased to be able to include that coverage in 2010-11.

Please review in detail the material explaining these changes on our web site. If your questions are not answered in our FAQs, contact us at healthinsurance@stanford.edu.

Take good care,

Ira M. Friedman, MD

Director, Vaden Health Center


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