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Student Health Service has modified its health insurance policy to provide additional coverage for prescription drugs after graduate students' complaints that the policy was insufficient. Student Health Director MarJeanne Collins said that her organization renegotiated its contract with Associates Life Insurance Company, which underwrites the University policy, so that policy holders will be now be covered for up to $500 worth of prescription drugs with no increase in premiums. Before the renegotiations, only $100 worth of prescription drugs were covered by the University health insurance plan, said Collins. Susan Garfinkel, chairperson of the Graduate and Professional Student Assembly, said that many graduate students were concerned that seriously ill students would be financially burdened because of the $100 limit on drug reimbursements in the original policy, which was contracted last spring. The GAPSA chairperson said that individual graduate students contacted Collins and were instrumental in increasing the drug reimbursement limit. Anthropology graduate student Michael Bazinet, who is HIV-positive, said he is pleased with the increase, but said it will have little effect on the average student, and that even for the seriously ill student the reimbursement policy "still isn't going to help them out a whole lot." Bazinet said that insurance companies have an attitude with seriously ill patients that " 'if they are rare, then we don't have to worry about them.' " Every year, Student Health administrators either renegotiate the University health insurance plan for students with the previous year's company, which it offers to renew, or finds a new company to underwrite its plan. Last Spring, Student Health abandoned Boston Mutual Life Insurance Company because they would have increased the cost from about $600 to $900 dollars per policy holder. Student Health instead chose Associates Life Insurance because the increase per policy would only be about $100 dollars. The new plan, however, put the $100 dollar reimbursement cap on prescription drugs, which upset many graduate students, who make up about 4000 of the 6000 Student Health life insurance policy holders. Collins said the major reason for the University's health insurance problems is that the national health insurance situation is bleak and that "premiums are up and benefits are down everywhere."

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