the current design of the prescription drug benefit be modified to eliminate the cumbersome reimbursement claims process.
Concerns regarding the cost of eligible dependents to participate in the SHP have been voiced by graduate students for a number of years. For the current plan year, the fee for one dependent under the standard plan is $2,840; for 2 or more dependents it is $4,505. Next year the fees will increase to $3,010 and $4,780 respectively. It is the understanding of the task force that when dependents were first added to the plan, fees were comparable to the rates charged for dependent care by peer institutions. Our rates for dependents continue to be comparable to our peer group. However, when we compare our rates to insured student health plans, our rates are higher. For insured plans, dependent rates are usually 1.5 to 2.5 times the student rate for one dependent, rather than 3.5 to 4.5 times the student rate as is the case currently at Princeton. Consistent with the belief that we expressed in our January report that “Princeton should become a friendlier place for graduate students with children,” we recommend that the dependent rate be lowered to afford better access to the plan. We understand that since Princeton’s plan is self-insured, any decrease in dependent rates must be offset either by an increase in the student rate or a contribution by the University to subsidize dependent costs.
The current plan design includes a number of deductible and out-of-pocket expense components, as follows: $10 office visit co-pay; $250 per student/$500 per family annual deductible; 20% of cost for all eligible expenses except outpatient mental health, which is 50% of cost. The maximum annual out-of-pocket expense is $5,000. We recommend that the plan design be modified and simplified to reduce out-of-pocket expenses. This could be accomplished by increasing annual fees and/or through the application of standard co-payments (i.e., $20 for each office visit or eligible expense). Serious consideration should also be given to lowering the plan’s deductibles, which would also have a beneficial effect on prescription drug out-of-pocket costs and office visit expenses.
The SHP provides a preventive dental benefit up to $125 per plan year (deductible not applicable). In addition, beginning in 2001 a separate Dental Health Plan was offered to students with the University subsidizing 50% of the cost. The plan is limited, however, and students have difficulty traveling to the participating dentists. We recommend that the University, in conjunction with the plan sponsor, develop strategies to improve access to quality dental care. One method might be to bring dentists to UHS on a periodic but regular basis.
In the past, all undergraduates as well as all graduate students were required to participate in the SHP. In the early 1990s this practice was changed so that mandatory participation applied only to graduate students, with undergraduates being able to waive out of the plan by providing