Stanford News


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Stanford University introduces new student health care plan

Cardinal Care, a new health plan for the 14,000 students enrolled at Stanford University, will start offering services in Fall Quarter 1997. Developed by the staff at Stanford's Cowell Student Health Service, students and health care experts, the plan allows students to take advantage of the same provider networks as commercial plan participants, while reinforcing their strong connection to Cowell.

"Stanford University maintains that every student must have medical insurance protection for both routine care and emergencies," says Dr. Ira M. Friedman, director of Cowell Student Health Service. "In fact, students are required to provide proof of health care coverage before they can register for classes. To ensure that students have the opportunity to purchase affordable, comprehensive coverage, the university has enhanced the student health care plan that it offers."

The benefits available through Cardinal Care are more comprehensive than those available through any of the previous university-sponsored plans. Participants will receive the same quality care when they are treated at Cowell Student Health Service or Stanford Medical Center. Cardinal Care pays 100 percent of the cost of eligible services, with minimal copayments for some services. The plan also will allow participants to visit providers affiliated with Blue Cross of California, Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association Plan networks throughout the United States as well as Value Behavioral Health.

If students need medical attention when they are off campus ­ because they are at home on break, are traveling or prefer to visit a local provider ­ Cardinal Care pays 80 percent of the cost of covered services they receive from a network provider after they meet a $200 annual deductible. Although more than 70 percent of doctors and hospitals in the United States are members of the provider networks, Cardinal Care pays benefits for eligible services to any provider anywhere in the world.

Mental-health care is also an integral part of Cardinal Care coverage. To complement the free consultation and brief-therapy services available through the university's Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) group, Cardinal Care has formed an alliance with Value Behavioral Health (VBH), a separate carrier.

VBH referral specialists work with Cardinal Care participants and CAPS counselors to assess needs and coordinate mental-health care with professionals and treatment facilities across the United States. To effectively manage the cost of treatment, Cardinal Care pays benefits when care is coordinated through CAPS and VBH.

In addition to the advantages of Blue Cross provider access and VBH coordination and referral services, Cardinal Care offers a variety of new benefits. There is no longer a deductible for prescriptions filled at the Cowell pharmacy, and there is no lifetime maximum for services students receive at Cowell or Stanford Medical Center.

Added benefits and partnerships with new health care organizations have not affected Cardinal Care premium costs; coverage through the university-sponsored student health care plan will continue to be $182 per quarter.

So that eligible students are able to make an informed decision about their health care coverage needs, Cowell has distributed a brochure on the new plan and developed a Cardinal Care website ( The university will host a series of information sessions for students, faculty and staff beginning March 31.


By Elaine Ray