Post-enrolled Ph.D. candidates with DCC status (Degree Candidacy Continuing) may elect to continue their SHP coverage and their access to UHS for one additional year and post-enrolled master’s degree candidates may extend their coverage for five months by paying a Student Health Fee. That fee next year will be $842.50 a semester or $1,685 a year. DCC dependent fees are the same as other dependent fees.
The SHP provides coverage for off-campus medical and hospital services. In-network office visits require a $10 co-pay, with the balance of the office visit expense being fully covered. There is a $250 per student and $500 per family deductible each year for all other plan-eligible expenses with a maximum annual out-of-pocket expense of $5,000. All eligible expenses are covered at 80% of charges after application of the deductible, with the exception of outpatient mental health benefits where the plan covers 50% of up to 24 office visits per year.
The SHP is self-administered by the University, with all medical and prescription expenses and all administrative costs supported by plan fees.
The current plan covers 50% of the cost of outpatient visits for up to 24 visits per year. In the Princeton area, the cost of a typical office visit ranges from $125 to $250. At $150 an hour, the out-of-pocket expense to a student for 12 visits would be $900; for 24 visits it would be $1,800. Statistics both nationally and at Princeton indicate that students are seeking treatment in increasing numbers for a variety of psychiatric disorders, such as depression, anxiety disorders, and substance abuse/dependence. In evaluating mental health benefits at our peer institutions, we found that all of the schools cover at least 80% of the cost of outpatient mental health expenses and provide higher allowances for the number of annual visits (typically 30 as compared to our 24). In order to ensure that students are receiving adequate and appropriate mental health care, we recommend that the design of the outpatient mental health benefit be reviewed and modified to improve access and affordability. At a minimum, the plan benefit should be increased from 50% to 80% to be consistent with the other covered benefits under the plan and to be more in line with our peer institutions. It is also recommended that the University consider providing more comprehensive mental health care on-site at UHS. Some of our peer institutions now offer unlimited psychotherapy sessions in their on-campus mental health units based on medical necessity.
The Medco Health prescription drug plan that was introduced in March 2001 provides enrolled students with access to drug discounts. The current plan design provides 80% coverage for the cost of prescription drugs after the satisfaction of deductibles. Students are required to pay for the prescriptions and then submit their receipts for reimbursement to the third party claims administrator. This process is both cumbersome and time-consuming. For some students the initial outlay for required prescriptions may be prohibitive. It is recommended that