In 2021, following significant advocacy by our student workers, our healthcare plan was slightly improved when the maximum out-of-pocket costs for in-network charges was lowered from $8,000 to $2,000. While this change was critical and long overdue, it’s only a small step in the right direction. The $2,000 maximum out of pocket limit is still far more expensive than is reasonable (nearly 18% of the base pay for an ASE making the minimum rate). For out-of-network health care, the maximum out-of-pocket remains an astounding $13,000 which is more than the minimum full-time graduate ASE academic year stipend. Given the lack of in-network coverage in the Fairbanks area, this maximum is FAR too high. In addition there are many other problems that grad appointees have reported with the health insurance plan.
Many basic types of coverage are completely excluded (without an option to opt in for a higher cost) including:
Skin and sleep issues
Anything related to sports
Anything related to "dangerous activities"
Medical supplies such as needles, syringes, support garments etc
Anything related to fertility, family planning, or sexual function
Lack of In-Network Providers
There are few providers in the Fairbanks area and other non-Anchorage locations in the state that accept graduate student insurance. This means that UAF-based students and students in the field or located at the smaller campuses often have to travel to Anchorage for medical care, incurring additional costs (such as travel, hotels, etc.), or need to spend extra time negotiating with the insurance provider to get local out-of-network care covered. For students based outside of Anchorage, Juneau, and Fairbanks there are not even in-network providers for basic coverage that would be available at the Student Health Centers. Further, even when in-network providers are listed, the lists are often out of date and those providers no longer practice in the area.