In the past few years almost 50 per cent of the Laurier student population has opted out of the health and dental plan. For many who already had health and dental benefits, 200 dollars in their pocket was the only sensible route to take. With the deadline fast-approaching on Friday, September 25, it’s time to ask yourself, “Should I opt out?”

Even though an extra 200 dollars in your pocket sounds like a lucrative deal, there are definite cases where keeping the health and dental coverage makes economic sense.

First of all, it is a great deal for what you pay. Since the Student Union buys the coverage for all students, their per person costs are drastically reduced. For example, I compared the health plan available through Laurier to a quote given by Sun Life Assurance Company. Laurier’s plan gives 80 per cent coverage with a 500 dollar maximum per type of service (physiotherapy, massage, chiropractic etc.) Sun Life’s “Enhanced Plan” gave similar results of 80 per cent coverage with a 400 dollar maximum per service. The glaring difference between the health plans was overall cost. Laurier’s plan costs $104.41 per year. Sun Life’s website quoted my coverage at $145 per month or $1740 per year. Obviously, the ability to buy coverage for large groups of people, like health insurance provided by the company you work for, means steep drops in per person costs.

Charlene LaCelle, the WLUSU Health Plan Co-ordinator, expanded on the benefits of the health and dental coverage.

“We have many students who have other forms of coverage,” said LaCelle. “You can use those other forms of coverage with the student health plan. You can add maximum coverage costs together.”

LaCelle offered the example of physiotherapy. Under the student plan, you have 80 per cent of coverage up to 500 dollars for the year. If you were to combine this coverage with the insurance you already have (through your parents, employer, etc.) that would mean 100 per cent coverage (80 per cent from one, 20 per cent from the other) with a higher maximum. If I was already covered with Sun Life, for example, I would have full coverage with a $1000 maximum for the year.

Granted, insurance coverage is not the most exciting thing and most students probably don’t even think about the potential benefits of combining coverage. It is an extra 200 dollars in your pocket at a time when textbook and tuition costs are flooding your credit card statements. That money, though, can be easily made up if you do your research and find out how to benefit from the plan.

More information on the health and dental plan can be found at wlusu.studentwise.ca.