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University reviews MegaLife insurance

Tricia de Groot | Monday, November 22, 2004

For the past 20 years, MegaLife Insurance Company has served as the insurance provider for Notre Dame undergraduate and graduate students, but it was not until shortly before this academic year that the University came to the understanding that MegaLife did not cover all club sports.

Although many of the 29 club sports affiliated with the University are covered by MegaLife, those in which students are traveling and competing–rather than participating on campus–are not.

“Mega has always covered our ‘club’ sports that act like intramurals-on campus and only Notre Dame student participants,” said director of University Health Services Ann Kleva. “It was an unfortunate assumption by the athletic department that Mega covered any club sport.”

The actual policy was identified this year when an undergraduate parent was considering purchasing MegaLife for her child who wanted to play organized intercollegiate sports, Kleva said. The parent contacted risk management with her question about coverage, and the issue was brought to the attention of Kleva and the athletic department–leading to a change in the understanding of what activities are covered by the policy and the exact benefits of the plan.

The athletic department has been educated on what the student insurance plan entails, Kleva said, including an understanding of the difference between the insurance definition of intramural and club sports.

Many students also assume MegaLife covers all sports, Kleva said, but do not realize that club sports that involve travel–including water polo, sailing and crew–are not included in the package. Explicit information to the contrary is available, Kleva added.

“It is specifically stated annually in the insurance brochure under ‘exclusions’ that club sports are not covered,” she said. “It is unfortunate that students don’t read their brochure or check their policy, or attend educational classes that are offered to answer questions and to discuss their program.”

In January 2005 there will be a reviewing of the current policy, Kleva said, in which MegaLife will provide the University with two plans, one with complete club sport coverage and one without the new consideration.

The Student Medical Insurance Advisory Committee will be helping reevaluate the policy in the upcoming months and will take into consideration the expense increase a more inclusive plan would require, Kleva said. Unfortunately, it is predicted a more inclusive plan would be extremely expensive, possibly even prohibitively expensive, she said.

“We can only have one plan, as the number of students who would use the sport benefit is not high enough to bear the total financial risk,” Kleva said.

Students playing club sports are not the only group the University will need to take into consideration during its review process.

Currently, there are 1,850 graduate students and 175 undergraduate students using Megalife as their insurance provider. The University requires all graduate students either to enroll in the school-sponsored plan or to show proof of comparable insurance coverage, while such a mandate has not been established for the undergraduates.

Therefore, the needs of the graduate students, including allergy medicine coverage and increased coverage for nuclear medicine, must also be taken into consideration.

However, in the mean time, Health Services does not see the current plan as a major problem.

“I have never received a question or complaint about this [club sports] exclusion while I have received many questions about other exclusions,” Kleva said.