By Natalie Crnosija

"Aetna Student Health...underpayed $5.1 million in health care reimbursements."

Aetna Student Health, Aetna Health Insurance’s subsidiary, whose insurees include Stony Brook students through the University Health Plan, underpayed $5.1 million in health care reimbursements by using outdated reimbursement rates between 1998 and 2008, said New York State Attorney General Andrew Cuomo.

Aetna’s underpayment of student health charges was discovered by an investigation by Cuomo’s office. It was revealed that over 73,000 students at 200 colleges across the United States were affected by the rate foul-up.  Of these colleges, twenty were in New York State.

The Stony Brook University Student Health Plan, which is the default plan for students who do not have health insurance prior to enrollment, costs $959 per academic year.  Through this plan, there exist stipulations to receive health care on campus, including the requirement that Student Health Services (SHS) must evaluate students before they are allowed to visit the emergency room if they want to receive full reimbursement, according to the SHS website.

“Students who qualify for reimbursement will receive notification in the mail within 30 days,” said Leta Edelson of the Student Health Center’s Insurance Office.  The office was reluctant to give further comment.

“If you pay tuition out of pocket and have to pay for this insurance, you could have used the money elsewhere, like for buying textbooks,” Sophomore Stephany Pena, a student who once had University Health Care, said.  “This whole situation shows the overarching dishonesty of the insurance system.”
Katie Flanagan, a fifth year part-time student, found Aetna’s conduct upsetting but not surprising.

“So many people do not have health care who need it and it is horrible when a health care company does something like this,” Flanagan said.  “Their conduct is a symptom of the corruption in corporate America.”

Aetna, whose stock plunged from $57 per share to $23 between mid 2007 and late 2008, is slowly regaining its footing on Wall Street.  Their stock dipped upon the announcement of their Student Health subsidiary’s mismanagement.

Though stocks have little play in students’ view of Aetna as a company, Stony Brook students have a poor view of the Health Insurance company.

“If I had their insurance, I would be very frustrated and upset,” a Stony Brook Junior said.