Grad students at the University of Minnesota are worried about their fitness benefits as the school is slated to switch health insurance providers.
UM’s current provider, HealthPartners, offers a Frequent Fitness program that reimburses the user $20 each month if they go to the gym 12 or more times. However, the switch to Blue Cross Blue Shield could mean the program will be discontinued.
According to the Minnesota Daily, many grad students don’t pay Student Services Fees, which grants them access to UM’s Recreation and Wellness Center. Many students rely on the fitness program.
Sean Chen, president of the Council of Graduate Students, said the current Frequent Fitness program is valued by the students he’s talked to.
“I think it gives you incentive to go to the gym. It’s good for mental health. It’s good for your physical health,” Chen said. “Many of the people I know use it as well. And it can amount to $240 a year if you go frequently every month."
The change in insurance is part of a regular assessment, which the Office of Student Health Benefits conducts every six years. This year, HealthPartners’ bid was higher compared to Blue Cross Blue Shield. Chen said that’s no reason to do away with the benefit.
“I don’t think it makes sense to reduce the quality of health care when we shift from one insurer to a different one,” Chen said. “I think their intention is good. But we want to make sure we don’t lose some of the benefits when we’re shifting.”
Blue Cross Blue Shield also offers a more extensive network of providers in 160 countries.
“The thing that is going to benefit students significantly is that provider network,” said Susann Jackson, administrative director for the OSHB. “Because we had significant cost savings on this bid, over the next six years those cost savings roll forward for administrative costs. And those savings that we made on this process carry forward not just for the University, but for the students.”