UCF officials discuss requiring students to have health care

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ORLANDO, Fla. - On Thursday University of Central Florida officials met to discuss a proposed plan to require all students to have health insurance.

The UCF Board of Trustee's Finance Committee asked for more research about how such a mandate could impact students financially.

Student Tyler Wathen is still covered by his mother’s health insurance plan, but said he doesn’t know what he would do if he didn’t have a safety net.

“I know if I did get sick, if I didn’t have a way to get the medicine, or a way to recover, I’m out for two days. I’d miss so much in class,” Wathen said.

That’s a big reason behind the new push to make health insurance a requirement to enroll.

“A student could have one injury that could be a significant setback if you don’t have insurance,” said UCF spokesperson Chad Binette.

One in every five UCF students doesn’t have health insurance.

The school’s Health Services director told the committee the plan would require incoming students who don’t have their own insurance, or aren’t covered by their parent’s plan, to purchase a plan through the school for about $1,400 each year.

“A lot of students don’t have a lot of money for health care,” said student Chris Koury.

But supporters said if health care is listed as an enrollment requirement, students can get help through financial aid, even though the extra money wouldn't cover the entire cost.

Florida State University has required coverage since 2007, and officials there say enrollment hasn't dropped.

But committee members still want to know if enrollment among financially needy applicants has dropped because of the requirement.

Health Services officials haven’t set a timeline for when they'll have those recommendations.

It would take a full board of trustees to approve the measure.