Volume 92, Issue 35

Thursday, November 5, 1998

a little bit louder now


Health plan confusion remains

By Dave Yasvinski
Gazette Staff

Confusion continues to circulate on campus as a result of modifications recently made to the student health plan.

Western is part of a campus trust recently formed with Acadia and Memorial universities. The university has adopted a drug formulary for its students, devised by the Student Benefits Trust Administrators and recent revisions to this formulary made by the SBTA have caused some uncertainty on campus, as to what the formulary does and does not cover.

"Students have come forward expressing concerns to us and to members of administration," said Tom McFarlane, director of student health services. Because of these concerns, McFarlane said he wrote a letter to the University Students' Council, which has since been forwarded to the SBTA.

"We're trying to address those concerns – I've been in touch with the USC and I am awaiting a response," he said.

Ewart O'Hara, president of the SBTA, said there were no major changes made to the formulary. "Essentially there is nothing that was covered before that is not covered now."

O'Hara explained certain drugs have been put on a list for special approval because they were being abused, not necessarily by Western students, but from any group across the country which has chosen to adopt the formulary. These drugs can still be accessed under the plan, but they would require a note from a physician.

O'Hara said he received McFarlane's letter and has passed it on to SBTA's pharmacology consultants. The letter expressed concerns regarding which drugs would be covered as well as confidentiality issues.

Part of this confusion was a result of a lack of communication, O'Hara said. "The changes in the formulary were probably not communicated as effectively as they should have been."

Dave Small, VP-finance for the USC, said this confusion has arisen out of minor changes every insurance company makes – things were blown out of proportion. "It's because of nosy doctors that don't know what they're talking about, who raise a stink about it and hurt students more than help them."

Small added doctors know brand name drugs but not all the generic ones which can be used in their place. "By writing letters it scares people. Students are getting scared they can't get antibiotics –this is not the case. We have a very good drug plan, it covers everything you need."

Al Jiwaji, a pharmacist at Western, said a lot of students have been upset by the changes. The recent changes made to the formulary were drastic, but as far as he knows they have been reversed. "We were shocked, but it's all going to be reversed, that's what the USC told us."

"For [Jiwaji] to say it was changed as a result of anything is nuts," said Jim Walden, general manager of the USC. He added the changes have not been reversed.

"Nobody is double-dealing here. Give me a list of the drastic changes and we'll go to the consultants and sit down," Walden said.

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Copyright The Gazette 1998