Sept. 3, 2009
Gynecological care added to UI Student Health Insurance Plan, thanks to students
University of Iowa senior Miranda Welch just wanted to make sure she had health insurance. But when she turned to the UI Student Health Insurance Plan, she found that one of her basic needs wasn't going to be covered. The current health insurance plan did not include annual gynecological care for women.
Beginning Sept. 1, the UI's Student Health Insurance Plan now covers gynecological care for women, thanks to a campaign started by Welch and UI alumna Nicole Pearson, a student at the time. The two women worked with students, administration and community members to make this important change.
"It's great to know that I really changed something on campus," said Welch, (above), an English and women's studies major in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences from Stratford, Iowa. "I knew that I wanted to make a change while on campus, and this was a project that really suited me and was very important to many women within our community."
When Welch discovered the lack of gynecological services covered in the plan, she went to the UI Women's Resource and Action Center (WRAC) where she has been a volunteer since she stepped onto campus four years ago. WRAC members joined her in support of her cause and helped her develop a plan of action. Pearson did extensive research on the surge in cervical cancer rates and the importance of regular gynecological screenings. She also found that many students didn't know the services weren't covered.
She soon teamed up with Pearson, an alumna of the UI Master of Public Health Program from Klemme, Iowa, who graduated in May 2009, to lobby for these services to be included in the plan.
Pearson, who also was a WRAC volunteer, met Welch while they were both involved with the Iowa Women Initiating Social Change (IWIS) program, which provides students with needed skills to tackle important issues by training them to develop and use strategies for political action and social change. Through countless hours of research on health insurance plans from other universities, Pearson discovered that the UI was one of only two schools in the Big Ten that did not provide these services.
They contacted the UI Benefits Office, where staff informed them of the feasibility of the plan, including changes in cost.
Welch began to reach out to other UI administrators, UI student groups and the Iowa State Board of Regents. It was finally recommended that Welch make a presentation to the Student Health Advisory Committee to implement the changes as part of a pilot project, a temporary implementation for later review. The committee deemed the pilot project unnecessary and recommended to Vice President of Student Services Tom Rocklin to approve the policy change.
"I'm pleased that students worked as hard as they did to make this change and that we will be better able to meet women's health care needs," Rocklin said.
Rocklin approved the revision, and UI students are now seeing the coverage of these services in the 2009-10 academic year. For more information, visit http://www.uiowa.edu/hr/benefits/health/student/ship_options.pdf.
STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Services, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 371, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500