The AMS/GSS Health and Dental Plan provides students with extended health coverage such as physiotherapy, optometry and dental care, in addition to BC’s Medical Services Plan. All eligible students are automatically enrolled, but students may choose to opt-out or enrol in an additional family plan during the Change-Of-Coverage period.The plan is supposed to be effective from September to August of the next calendar year.
Currently, the extended health coverage is administered by Studentcare.
Colter Schmidt, a student at UBC, reported delays in coverage at the AGM. “I went to the hygienist during September, and my claim was denied … During October, I had my dentist resubmit the claim, [but it was] denied again.”
Xaanja Free, a graduate student in the master of library and information studies program, said she also had trouble receiving coverage in September and October. “I’ve paid now for almost two months for my family and nobody’s able to go see a dentist,” said Free. “[Dentists] said they didn’t receive that information from UBC till October 22.”
Free said she has been told by a pharmacist at the University Pharmacy IDA that, for the family plan, you have to “pay for your first prescription for each member for it to kick in.”
University Pharmacy IDA did not comment on such individual cases, but said the pharmacy has not seen a large number of students with these issues.
In a phone interview, Sophia Haque, the director of partnerships & development at Studentcare, said that this delay might be the result of the Blackout Period.
During the Blackout Period — which is approximately September 1–October 31 of each policy year — insurance companies might not be able to confirm coverage for students. Returning students who were covered the previous policy year will not be impacted, however. Any expenses new students incurred during this time “can be claimed for after the Blackout Period.”
“[The Blackout Period] is a protection for the plan to ensure that no one is unfairly taking advantage of it,” said Haque, referring to cases where students might use the coverage but later opt-out within the Change-Of-Coverage Period.
“The Change-Of-Coverage Period usually ends by the third week of September. After that we have a grace period … that takes us to mid-October. Then it’s just a matter of cleaning the list of the data and sending it to the insurance company.”
Haque encouraged students to visit the AMS/GSS Health and Dental Plan office in the Nest, if they have further concerns about the plan.
For Free, this Blackout Period seems a bit unfair. “So it certainly is pay first and then get reimbursed,” she said.
AMS VP Finance Mary Gan, who oversees the AMS/GSS Health and Dental Plan, said students may provide their input on the Health and Dental plan by taking part in the Student Engagement Survey — which is currently open.
“The survey questions will allow students to tell us what they want, and we can definitely explore with Studentcare on how we could improve that.”