by Todd Holbrook
The University of Pennsylvania is taking student diversity to a new level starting next year, with transgender surgeries coming under coverage for all students on the university sponsored health insurance plan. Penn will join around 30 other colleges across the country in providing transgender surgeries, under a program sponsored by Aetna. What's covered? Up to $50,000 for the cost of surgery, psychotherapy and hormone treatment related to sex reassignment. While these schools may be gaining valuable sensitivity points, they're definitely not doing the average student any favors when it comes to quarterly insurance premiums that many students wind up paying in addition to tuition, a plethora of fees and living expenses.
One of my major gripes about student health insurance is that students are by default enrolled unless they unilaterally 'opt-out' of the insurance policies. I'm curious as to whether many colleges operate as my alma matter did in offering zero reminders to students that they need to opt-out of the insurance if they are covered by their parents' or own health insurance plan. I know of many instances in which students were milked of several hundred dollars in a single term for university-sponsored health insurance coverage when they were already covered on their parents' insurance plans because they failed to realize that they needed to opt-out before the deadline had passed. It is generally a good idea for colleges to participate in group insurance plans to save students (who are not covered elsewhere) money on insurance premiums, but it would be a better policy if the default were to not be covered, with a voluntary opt-in required to enroll.