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Proposed “hard waiver” health insurance may lead to “unnecessary expense” for students

Clemson University’s consideration to adopt a hard wavier policy has posed a small controversy on campus. The policy would require all undergraduates to purchase health insurance in light of the federal Affordable Care Act.  

If a student doesn’t have health insurance before the start of the school year, the fee would be added on to their tuition and fees. If a student is insured through their parents, all they would have to do is submit a form stating so and would then be exempt from the healthcare policy. 

The motion to hard wavier the undergraduate college is supported by the Graduate Student Government, and just three weeks ago, the CUSG passed a resolution in support of the motion. Plans to initiate the policy at the undergraduate level have been underway for several years. Currently, the motion is under review at the administration level.

CUSG Human and Health Services Chairwoman Jessica Schnorr said the policy has received little to no pushback from the students. 

“[Over the past years] we received little opposition,” said Schnorr. “It’s just that the time [to initiate this policy] is now.”

But there are those students that think differently. CUSG Senator Alex Cullen said that there are students may not even know the plans for hard wavier are underway. 

“The reason why I am the most against it is because most of the student population doesn’t know about it,” said Cullen, “The thing about this is that I think CUSG went ahead and was like ‘all the student support this,’ but I, myself as a senator, didn’t hear even about it until before that Monday [when we voted in support of it].” 

There have been incidents at other hard wavier universities where students were misinformed about the policy. Since the insurance policy is automatically tacked onto the tuition and fees, students who didn’t see the extra fee for insurance ended up paying for an university insurance they didn’t need. 

College Confidential User Smithview specifically listed an incident when their son, who goes to Columbia, did not have any knowledge of the policy on his fees and ended up paying the expense. The parent said they opted out of the insurance plan their son’s first year, but did not know that the paperwork did not carry over into the next year. 

“We discovered in January (when they first sent him an insurance card) that he was enrolled in the university’s health insurance policy and that the cost had been tacked onto his student account which we have to pay,” said Smithview, “Appeals to common sense fell on deaf ears and we are having to eat this huge, unnecessary expense.”

Cullen said that if the university promoted education about the policy, hard wavier could perhaps be justifiable, but  that “there are deeper issues” with the plan. “In my opinion, its needless, and that’s because it’s basically a policy in which the board of trustees says ‘hey you have to buy this,’ even though we already have to,” said CUSG Senator Alex Cullen, “That’s redundant, and not necessary.”

Cullen also added that in the upcoming months with an administration change, the Affordable Care Act could be irrelevant. Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump promises to do so in the first 100 days of his administration.

“One is the healthcare policy that we are going to have to purchase now. We may have a [national] administration change in the upcoming months so it would be a little forward to jump the gun on this,” said Cullen. “We may end up with a policy that forces students to buy healthcare in a country that doesn’t force people to buy healthcare.”

Other students find issues in the fundamental roots of the hard wavier, and believe it infringes on their rights. 

Junior pre-business major Zachary Mccutchen said he finds the policy “ridiculous.”

“I don’t think it’s the school’s place to do that,” said Mccutchen, “They’re just adding on more fees for something that’s not their responsibility to do,”

Junior Environmental/Natural Sciences major Joe Kiel also disagrees with the policy. 

 “It’s not right for [the university] to tax people for not having something,” said Kiel, “Clemson is an academic institution and shouldn’t be focusing on healthcare.”

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