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Fixing international student healthcare

by Mia Anhoury March 19, 2019
Fixing international student healthcare

Concordia is currently negotiating its plan with Blue Cross


The Concordia Student Union (CSU) wants to add the responsibility of providing international students with a health insurance plan to its Positions Book. The university is currently in charge of this responsibility, but John Hutton, CSU finance coordinator, said “Concordia University has the most expensive plan in Canada.”

This question will be brought up in the CSU’s next general elections. Currently, Quebecois and Canadian students receive insurance from the union, but international students do not. Council approved the referendum in a special council meeting on March 9. The union would work with the Graduate Student Association (GSA) to provide the insurance plan.

Hutton said the referendum is a way of putting pressure on the university to hand over the responsibility of the health plan for international students to the union. With its current plan expiring this year, Concordia is presently negotiating a new health plan for international students. “The referendum is a way to show that students are on the side of making the changes that need to be made,” said Hutton.

The CSU’s Positions Book was last updated in March 2016; it is a document compiling the  positions the union takes on certain topics. Positions, however, don’t mandate the union to execute specific tasks. In this case, Hutton said if the referendum were to pass, it would simply be added to the Positions Book, and he hopes it will pressure the university to hand them the responsibility down the line.

As previously reported by The Concordian, Hutton and GSA President Amir Molaei met with Andrew Woodall, the dean of students, who manages the contract, to discuss the possibility of handing over the responsibility to the union and the association.

Hutton said the meeting was to learn more about the university’s plan since the information about the plan’s management and its data success is not available to them. Hutton and Molaei requested multiple documents and reports—specifically, the claims data of the plan and its loss ratio—from the university.

The loss ratio of the plan is weighted by the total number of premiums paid by the students for the plan and the amount of claims made. “We’re looking for things such as the contract with Blue Cross and past quotes [the university] has been given,” said Hutton.

In their proposal to Woodall, the GSA and CSU asked Concordia not to sign a new health insurance agreement and to hand over that responsibility to them. The position, according to Hutton, “would show a message from students that they want to see action, they want to see change and they want to have a health plan that is by students and for students.”

“We think that student union management is the way to go and that’s why we’re trying to make this case” said Hutton.

Students will be able to vote on this referendum question from April 2 to 4 during the CSU’s general elections.

Graphic by @sundaemorningcoffee.

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