HWC faces, resolves issues with Aetna health insurance

By Heather Johansen

Students on the Macalester insurance plan should no longer experience problems when using their insurance cards to buy a prescription. The problem existed at the beginning of the semester when pharmacies said that students using temporary cards did not appear to be registered in the Aetna system. This meant that students were forced to pay full price for their prescription and then submit their claims to Health and Wellness for reimbursement. “There was a delay this fall in getting students activated on Aetna’s end. We’re still not sure exactly what the problem was,” said Denise Ward, Associate Dean for Student Services. “It fell somewhere between Aetna, the insurance broker that manages the account, and our upload of student enrollees.” For a short time, students essentially did not exist in the provider’s system. “The technician called Aetna and later told me that they had no record of me even having insurance through them,” said Lora Hlavsa ’13. During this period of time Macalester students technically had coverage, but they had to pay for their prescriptions up front and ask for a reimbursement. “It was definitely very frustrating. Medications are not cheap, and having that extra money go towards my prescriptions every month was money that could have gone towards my rent, bills, or groceries,” Hlavsa said. “But obviously it’s a necessity and I needed to pay for them, so I didn’t really have a choice.” “It is not the experience that we want students to have and [we] recognize for some it was a hardship,” Ward said. “We hope to avoid this next year, obviously, no matter who the insurance vendor is.” The initial problem was caused by the school’s unusually late deadline to sign up for the policy. “Everyone wants as long of a sign-up period as possible, particularly new students,” Ward said. “We used to have the deadline of August 15, but students and families have expressed concern about that being too early.” Because the deadline was pushed so close to the first day of school, there was comparatively little time to get all students activated into the Aetna system and distribute policy cards. “It leaves little time for problem solving,” Ward said. “But we are committed to making it work.” Ward said that “everyone enrolled in Aetna has been good to go for some time now.” Anyone experiencing difficulties can contact Sue Rothenbacher in HWC ([email protected]). She can help students with insurance questions. refresh –>