Once Student Health Insurance Plan is waived and a private policy is verified by the university, it is up to the student to ensure the private policy is active and paid for, but unless SHIP employees catch wind of a dropped policy by a Boise State enrollee and conduct an audit of coverage, the individual may get away with breaking state law.
“We normally don’t do it (verify coverage),” said SHIP health insurance and billing coordinator Marika Butler. “For the most part, we are here to make sure students are meeting their insurance needs.”
Idaho state law requires university students to be enrolled in a health insurance policy throughout the duration of the school year. According to Butler, those caught without insurance would be forced to pay for a SHIP policy backdated to the start of the semester.
“If a student came in and their insurance terminated, we would help them get on SHIP at a prorated cost,” said Butler. “If they couldn’t pay, we would add it to their student fees.”
Included in the online paperwork for the SHIP waiver is a statement students are required to sign indicating they will retain coverage as mandated by state law.
“When a student does file a waiver, they sign a statement saying they will not falsify their information and it states we have the right to verify their private insurance at any time,” said Butler.
SHIP outsources waivers and verification through Ascension Benefits and Insurance Solutions, a healthcare consulting firm that specializes in employee insurance management.
“Ascension goes in and verifies the waiver initially,” said Butler. “And at any time during the semester we can go in and audit all, or a handful, or we can do a spot audit of the waivers.”
Private insurance companies like Idaho Blue Cross do not share student policy information with Boise State unless specifically requested during a coverage audit.
“We do not contact the university to verify that an insurance policy is active with a Boise State student once the waiver has been completed; student health information is protected by HIPAA under federal law,” said Blue Cross of Idaho’s corporate media relations director Karen Early.
According to Butler, these audits have only been done a few times in the past and are done on a case by case basis.
“We have done a re-audit in the middle of the semester before,” said Butler.
Butler said an audit of private insurance companies is generally based on whether SHIP employees become aware that a student has dropped health insurance coverage.
“It would depend, if a red flag came up, like if a student would come in and say ‘I don’t have insurance right now,’” said Butler.
According to Butler, incidents like these rarely arise and a complete audit of all student waivers would be too costly and time consuming.
Though waiver violations may take place at Boise State, Butler says she and colleagues prefer that those breaking state law contact the SHIP office to reinstate coverage.
“We would rather have them come in and say ‘Hey, I need insurance,’” said Butler.