Ten per cent of students at Mount Allison are international students, a statistic exhibited by the rows of countries’ flags that hang above the meal stations in Jennings. Along with many other issues faced by international students, adequate health coverage has been a subject of debate in recent months. Currently uninsured international students use the International Health Plan offered by the Mount Allison Student’s Union (MASU), a plan that is about to undergo major changes for the next 2013-14 academic year.
The new health care plan will cost 540 dollars (as opposed to the previous cost of 495 dollars) to insure students up to 250,000 dollars (as opposed to the previous amount of two million dollars), but will cover more basic needs such as annual medical exams and vaccines. One of the greatest benefits is the coverage of simple physician charges and diagnostic services such as x-rays and MRIs.
The plan will also cover follow up visits to doctors to confirm or update treatment. “Say you go to a doctor to get a prescription for acne medication, but you find out that it doesn’t work,” said MASU Administration Officer Sonali Kallianpur at one of the meetings announcing the change. “Under the old plan, you would be charged for the next follow-up appointment, but the new plan will cover it.” In addition, the plan will cover any emergency treatment outside of the Province of New Brunswick, a great addition for most international students who travel to and from school.
Another policy voted on by the MASU council will take effect this coming year: all Mt. A students will be required to hold insurance under the extended health plan or similar coverage. Extended health covers acupuncture, chiropractors, massages, naturopaths, physiotherapists, psychologists and speech therapists.
“One of the things I don’t like is that the extended health plan is now mandatory for all students,” said Clay Steel, a first-year Mt. A student. “I went to the emergency room twice for pneumonia and then stomach virus and was covered by the old Medical/Emergency plan. If the extended plan covers things I don’t need as a reasonably healthy person, I’m just paying extra money. If it were up to me, I’d choose to stay with the insurance as it is.” As a dual citizen, Steel plans to apply for provincial coverage as soon as he turns nineteen and opt out of the extended health plan.