When Mohamed Amira went to OhioHealth O'Bleness Hospital with his daughter, who had a fever, he said he was charged an additional fee despite paying almost $8,000 per year to cover the price of insurance for his family through Ohio University.
“If (OU) is requiring us to pay $2,000, why (aren’t) important hospitals included?” Amira, a Graduate Student Senate representative for teacher education, said. “Why do I go (with) my daughter with a fever to the O’Bleness hospital and they ask me later to pay $1,600 while I pay $8,000 a year?”
At its Tuesday meeting, GSS passed a resolution asking OU to no longer require international students to purchase the student health care policy.
The resolution provides OU with examples of waiver forms at other universities that international students could fill out to see if their current insurance policy meets the requirements of their visas.
According to the resolution, seven out of ten of OU’s peer institutions do not require international students to purchase their student health insurance plans if their insurance already meets the visa standards.
Ohio State University also allows international students to opt out of their insurance plan if their insurance meets certain requirements.
Former Senator for the Patton College of Education Bahman Shahri said that conversation has been ongoing for the last “four or five years,” according to a previous Post report.
“I believe now, with the new administration and a new approach, it is time to reconsider some of the policies that have not been working properly,” Shahri said.
Amira, a sponsor of that resolution, said he is paying for the health insurance of himself, his wife and two children, totaling about $8,000 a year.
Elliot Long, senator for the College of Fine Arts, said requiring international students to purchase that plan is a “huge financial burden,” according to a previous Post report.
“Rather than providing specific language on what OU’s policy should look like, we chose to provide sample policies of what our peer institutions do,” Long said.
During Student Speakout, Fatma Jabbari, an international student and former GSS member studying political science, spoke about her own experience purchasing the student health insurance policy.
“International students are required to purchase the one and only health insurance that the university provides for them,” Jabbari said. “Domestic students have the right to waive it.”
Jabbari asked GSS to consider why OU’s health insurance would protect her more than any other health insurance plan for international students and why it costs more than other plans.
“Could you imagine that for the budget of an international student who is relying on themselves and on the stipend?” Jabbari asked. “Basically, I am paying the university back what they are paying me on the stipend.”
Vice Provost for Global Affairs and International Studies Lorna Jean Edmonds said the university requires international students to pay for this insurance to “safeguard health for all students.”
“There was a time where many international students would come to the (U.S.) … and they did not have health insurance that complied with the health insurance in the country,” Edmonds said. “The country was not prepared to cover their health costs.”
Edmonds said “times have changed” and, although the university has looked into finding a third party to review the legitimacy of every international student’s insurance, it “does not excuse the university for not figuring out a way forward.”
"I hope you can see that we are listening," she said. "We are doing our best to respond."