SBI passes vote to extend current healthcare provider

University officials told the board they would extend the contract regardless of the vote

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Sub-Board I, the nonprofit auxiliary organization responsible for managing student fees on behalf of student governments, passed a vote yesterday to keep Blue Cross Blue Shield as UB’s health insurance provider. 

SBI President Jennifer Schechter said although the Blue Cross Blue Shield plan is $90 more expensive than the Independent Health plan, students get better coverage in more places, meaning students will have to pay less out-of-pocket expenses. 

The vote to extend the Blue Cross Blue Shield plan for another year was passed with 8 votes in favour, 1 abstention and 1 against. The premium costs students $2,220. 

Schechter said SBI “rarely gets two competing plans” such as the Independent Health and Blue Cross Blue Shield proposals. Schechter also said SBI would only extend the current contract for one year instead of the usual three in order to get more competitive proposals next year.

Prior to the meeting, university officials reached out to Schechter and told her the university was going to extend the contract with Blue Cross Blue Shield regardless of what the SBI board decided at the meeting.

“If I put the insurance to a vote here and you decide on Independent Health, the university has told us they will reject it,” Schechter said at the meeting.

Blue Cross Blue Shield is UB’s current insurance provider and insures students, employees and covers the university in case of liability and property. The board decided to extend the insurance, in agreement with the university’s decision, despite the findings of the review committee. 

Schechter said that because the SBI board underwent an internal audit last semester and is currently going through administrative review, all of SBI’s policies were “being scrutinized.” SBI is currently going through administrative review because it is in the process of negotiating a contract with UB — which is not uncommon for corporations that may potentially have a contract with UB in the future, according to Schechter. 

Schechter, as a result, wanted to ensure that SBI was making decisions based on “quantifiable, objective” data, rather than personal feelings toward healthcare providers. Schechter said during the meeting that SBI would work on making a quantifiable way to assess health insurance providers for the next vote on insurance contracts. 

Vice President Jacob Brown and Treasurer Arsh Issany — who reviewed the proposals –– initially voted against extending the current contract and said they found little difference between proposals from the two providers. 

Issany said during the meeting that while both options were similar to each other, he felt that Independent Health had more benefits. 

He said Independent Health was a cheaper option and was based out of New York State, which he believed made it more familiar with how “Medicaid works in New York State.” He later changed his vote and decided to extend the current contract. 

Brown said he “fundamentally believed Independent Health was a better option.” 

He said that Blue Cross Blue Shield was “basically the same,” but while Blue Cross Blue Shield has a wider network of healthcare provision — which means students can find healthcare in a higher number of places — Independent Health was a better option because it had a lower cost and could still “meet the cover for students.”

Brown also said the healthcare plan for Blue Cross Blue Shield went up by $110, which he took into account during his decision.

“Some people may not think $90 is a lot. But, if you talk to a student who is paying for their college and is spending $2,200 on insurance, $90 could make a difference,” Brown said. 

Schechter moved for a second vote on the topic, after Issany said he would change his vote to extend the current contract since the university would be extending it regardless. 

Schechter said she didn’t believe in “cooperation for cooperation’s sake” but said that if SBI agreeing with the university would “strengthen our position and our organization,” then she would support it. 

Tanveen Vohra is the co-senior news editor and can be reached at tanveen.vohra@ubspectrum.com

TANVEEN VOHRA


Tanveen Vohra is a former senior news editor and covered international relations and graduate student protests.