The AMS has increased the mental health coverage for students from $1,000 to $1,500 annually.
The decision, made just a few days ago, reflects a continuing desire for the AMS to increase access to mental health support. In 2019, the AMS increased mental health coverage in its AMS/GSS Health and Dental Plan from $300 to $500 and further increased it to $1,000 in 2021. Now, students can be reimbursed for up to $1,500 in mental health care per year, which includes services such as psychiatry, counselling and psychology.
Every year, the society looks at the parts of the AMS/GSS Health and Dental Plan students use most and where more coverage is needed, according to AMS VP Finance Mary Gan. This year, mental health coverage stuck out as having a high amount of usage.
Gan also mentioned that there has been an increase in claims for mental health care coverage since the start of the pandemic.
“Due to the pandemic, a lot of students have been going through some rough patches. Also, so many things are constantly changing and the pandemic is … a constant stressor on a lot of people … so we’ve definitely seen a lot more claims in that section,” she said.
This year, the mental health coverage increase will be cushioned by the Health and Dental Reserve Fund, so students will not have to pay any additional fees on top of what they already paid this year.
In April, the AMS will evaluate the change to determine if it can continue in future years. Gan said that the society must balance between making sure the plan is affordable while making sure it can provide the best coverage for students.
The effective date for the new $1,500 mental health care coverage is September 1, 2021. If students maxed out their coverage at $1,000, they can now submit claims from the past few months with the extra $500.
Gan encouraged students to take advantage of the extra mental health care coverage they have received.
“If you do need any mental health support or psychology coverage, you have that new increase ready to use. I really encourage everyone … to take a look at the AMS/GSS Health and Dental Plan if you’re enrolled in it. It is a really great plan and it covers a lot of different health benefits and dental benefits that you may need during your degree.”