Health care has been in the news a lot lately, with picking an insurance provider a chief cause of angst.

Students at the University of Colorado needn`t get caught up in this quagmire during their collegiate years. CU offers students not one but two health insurance plans to choose from.

Get insured

For more information on CU`s student health insurance plans, call 303-492-5107 or visit healthcenter.colorado.edu/insurance .

CU has a "mandatory health insurance policy," which requires all students to have a health insurance plan in place, whether it`s through "their parents or a private provider" or with the university, said Michele Van Pelt, associate director of business, finance and operations for CU`s Wardenburg Health Center.

"CU happens to offer plans, though students aren`t required to use the ones provided by the university," she said.

Student Gold

For students who choose to use one of the plans offered by the university, Student Gold is the more comprehensive of the two. It costs $1,105 per semester, with services outside of Wardenburg underwritten by insurance company United Health Care, Van Pelt said.

"Services within Wardenburg are available for pretty much no cost, with no co-pay and no deductible," she said. "If students are referred outside of Wardenburg, United Health Care picks up the coverage, with a $250 deductible," meaning the student using the plan pays the first $250 of the service provided, while the company pays the rest.

Heather Collis, marketing coordinator for Wardenburg, said Student Gold is "a national and international plan," with "network providers nationally and internationally."

Every student at CU is automatically enrolled in the Student Gold plan as part of the university`s policy requiring health insurance for all students. To opt out of the program, students must go online and pick Campus Care, the other university insurance plan, or waive Student Gold in lieu of a third-party provider or existing coverage, Collis said.

"The deadline to waive is Sept. 1," she said.

Campus Care

For "students who have outside insurance, but might want to use Wardenburg," CU`s Wardenburg Campus Care plan is another insurance option, Collis said.

Campus Care "covers all primary care" services at Wardenburg, she said. For example:

"If a student lives in the residence halls, and they get a sore throat, they can come over and get a strep test," Collis said. "If they need something that is not covered, they can use their parents` (or another) insurance plan."

Van Pelt said that for $165 per semester, students can access any number of primary care options, including "the Wardenburg Medical Clinic, necessary labs and X-ray."

Campus Care does not cover departments such as Sports Medicine or Psychological Health & Psychiatry, she said.

Third-party coverage

Though students might be happy with non-CU insurance through their parents, that they pay for themselves, etc., Van Pelt said it would behoove them to reconsider paying for the Campus Care plan.

"Buy Campus Care so you can still be seen at Wardenburg," she said. "If you come to Wardenburg (without Campus Care), you`ll be responsible for payment, because Wardenburg isn`t in any insurance networks."

Collis said Wardenburg is a convenient on-campus option for sick students. However, if students do forego a CU insurance plan, and opt to use one of their choice, it is imperative that they know what medical centers around Boulder accept their insurance coverage, she said.

"If they choose to waive (university-issued) insurance, they should make sure they know where their provider can see them," Collis said.

Behind the plans

The Student Health Board at CU is the governing body of Wardenburg. Funded by student fees, the board is "the last line of decision-making" about policies concerning the health center, said Senior Co-Chair Christopher Cook.

Every year, one of the board`s responsibilities is determining how the insurance plans at CU could best benefit the student body.

To do this, Cook said the board evaluates "historical data" about health plans while also recruiting a wide array of undergraduate and graduate students to gather input from their peers.

"Board members are proactive in asking other students what they expect to see from current and future health insurance plans," Cook said. "We get the opinions and concerns of our constituent groups on-campus by diversifying our Board."

The Student Health Board meets weekly on Wednesdays, and it is "always searching for different constituent groups," Cook said. Though the university insurance plans have already been solidified for the 2010-11 academic year, the board will reevaluate insurance benefits for the year after in the coming semesters.

Input from students is essential to the process, Cook said.

"We have a decent scope of degree-seeking students on the board," he said. "We want to create health plans that encompass the needs and wants of undergraduates and graduate students through a student forum."