By Julia Siedlanowska, Contributor
Last month the Douglas Students’ Union (DSU) Representative Committee held a meeting regarding the Extended Health and Dental Plan, and came to the decision to move coverage brokers, selecting Gallivan & Associates for the 2013/14 fiscal year.
In the spring of 2012, the DSU received a renewal notice from current firm, Morneau Shepell, indicating that the costs of the Health and Dental Plan would increase by 8 per cent beginning September 1, 2012. The DSU would have to hold a referendum to increase the $260 student fee, or cut services to bring the costs down. The representative committee chose to cut naturopath and acupuncture services, put a $3,000 cap on medications, and restrict paramedical services such as chiropractors and massages, thereby avoiding increased student fees.
For the 2013-2014 renewal, Morneau Shepell indicated to Green Shield, the DSU’s representative broker, that paid claims for Douglas College increased by 7.8 per cent. However, this rate was before the service cuts implemented in 2012-2013. Morneau Shepell negotiated a rate increase of 2.9 per cent for the coming year that would increase annually by eight to 10 per cent. By choosing to renew with Morneau Shepell, the DSU would have had to subsidize the plan, depleting the Health and Dental Fund and leaving less money for other operations such as campus events and campaigns.
Jesse Stamberg, Internal Relations Coordinator, and DSU treasurer Devlin Pereira consulted another broker, Gallivan & Associates, for a comparative analysis of both firms. The benefits for going with Gallivan included a two-year $218.84 locked-in rate, additional vision benefit ($60 for eye exams and $100 for glasses every 10 months), implementation of PharmaCare enrollment (allowing the provincial government to take over payments after a student reaches a certain amount of medical purchases), and a surplus of $30.75 going into the Health and Dental Fund (with the option of $10 cash back to students.) With the surplus money there would be a total of $197,000 savings in the first two years creating “tremendous stability for the DSU.”
After the July 11 meeting, the DSU decided to switch Health and Dental Plan carriers. “The previous plan carrier continually increased the premiums which would this year have forced the DSU to hold a referendum to increase students’ fees. By changing to the new broker, insurer premiums will be significantly reduced, allowing the DSU to build the Health and Dental Reserve Fund and avoid increasing student fees for years to come while increasing benefits,” says Stamberg.