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News Release

April 12, 2006

Contact:

Elaine Ray, News Service: (650) 723-7162, ray@stanford.edu

Vaden Health Center to discontinue dependent care insurance

Officials at Vaden Health Center announced today that they will discontinue the dependent health insurance plan for dependents of students, effective Sept. 1, 2006. Plan enrollees have been notified individually of this change.

Cardinal Care, a separate health plan provided to students, is unaffected by this change.

"The top priority of the Vaden Insurance Office is to help each affected individual find and enroll in another health insurance plan," said Dr. Ira M. Friedman, director of Vaden Health Center. "The insurance office staff has researched various options to ease the transition to alternative coverage and found a number of lower cost, high-quality programs on the market, including plans for the hard to insure," Friedman said.

Vaden officials also have developed a resource guide and online information at http://vaden.stanford.edu/resources, designed to serve as a starting point in exploring coverage options. The website includes a list of links to insurers that offer plans for adults and children as well as questions individuals should consider in choosing a plan and explanations of common health insurance terminology.

Friedman said officials made the decision to discontinue the dependent care insurance plan, which is offered through the Chickering Group, a health insurance subsidiary of Aetna, after exploring numerous options.

"The university's decision to discontinue the dependent health insurance plan is a difficult but necessary one. The cost of the plan has escalated to the point that it is unsustainable. We understand the concerns that this decision will raise among plan enrollees and are dedicated to helping each of them identify and enroll in a plan that best meets their needs," he added.

According to data gathered by the insurance office at Vaden, dependent health insurance premiums were expected to increase by more than 50 percent in the next academic year. The high cost of the plan, Friedman added, has been driven by several factors: Relatively few people—just over 100—are enrolled in the plan and, among those, a large percentage make frequent use of health-care resources. Additionally, the plan is affected by the same forces that are driving the significant rise in health-care costs throughout the country: rising hospital and physician costs; new, promising technologies; and the increasing use of new, expensive drugs.

"We are committed to working in person with individuals to help simplify the information-gathering process, to offer guidance in decision-making and to answer questions and concerns," said Friedman, who noted that the university has set aside a small pool of funds to provide need-based financial assistance for students whose dependents are hard to insure.

The Vaden Insurance Office, located on the first floor of the health center at 866 Campus Drive, can be reached by telephone at (650) 723-2135, Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., or by e-mail at healthinsurance@stanford.edu.

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Comment:

Ira M. Friedman, MD, Vaden Health Center: (650) 725-1365, ira.friedman@stanford.edu

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