After Tuition, Books, and Room and Board, Colleges’ Rising Health Fees Hit a Nerve

by | Dec 19, 2022 | Health

You’ve compared tuition. Reviewed on-campus housing costs. Even digested student meal plan prices.

But have you thought about how much your son’s or daughter’s dream school will charge for health coverage?

You might be in for a shock.

Hawley Montgomery-Downs was thrilled when daughter Bryn Tronco earned a scholarship that pays half the $63,000 annual tuition at the University of Southern California. But just as school was starting in August, she was stunned to receive a bill from USC for $3,000 to cover both a student health insurance premium and a fee that allows students to access on-campus clinics and other services. At home in West Virginia, she had paid nothing for her daughter’s health insurance, through the state’s Children’s Health Insurance Program, which serves lower- and middle-class families.

Montgomery-Downs, who lives in Morgantown, West Virginia, was especially upset that USC not only billed her for health insurance but a $1,050 annual health fee. “It would be nice for her to go to the student health center, but with buying insurance to go to a primary care provider, it feels like I am paying twice,” she said.

Mandatory medical insurance and health service fees are common at colleges as a condition of enrollment, said Stephen Beckley, a Fort Collins, Colorado, health and benefits consultant to colleges. While t …

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