Volume 92, Issue 25

Tuesday, October 20, 1998

coughing up debt


Health plan coverage doctored

By Stephanie Cesca
Gazette Staff

Students may need to re-examine what medications are covered by the Western student health plan according to the revised drug formulary passed by the Student Benefits Trust Administrators Friday.

The SBTA recently updated the list of drugs covered for students. Such changes were implemented in an attempt to control costs, while still providing adequate medication for students, explained Tim Adams, account manager for the SBTA.

"There are some changes, but there are benefits. Overall, the formulary has improved," he said.

Al Jiwaji, a pharmacist at Western, said he opposed the alterations. "This is going to have a major impact," he said. "All of the major antibiotics won't be covered."

Jiwaji explained the SBTA has failed to explain why they have made the changes which have been implemented.

"We get a note in the middle of the semester stating certain drugs won't be covered. And the kinds of drugs they have taken off, they are the kinds of drugs you need on campus. The kids are going to suffer," he said.

Jim Walden, general manager of the University Students' Council, applauded the new formulary. In regards to antibiotics which have been excluded Walden assured students their expectations of Western's health system will be met.

"It should not inhibit treatment of any medical problem," he said.

If students do need an antibiotic which is not covered, Walden suggested they can make special requests. "There's a process for requesting exceptions," he said.

Jiwaji said although the new formulary has just been released, it will be implemented for the entire 1998/99 year. Certain drugs students were told were covered and obtained throughout this school year, may no longer be covered.

"If I was a student and I paid for a drug plan, I would want to know what is covered," Jiwaji said. Whether or not these students will be reimbursed for these drugs is not yet known.

Dave Small, VP-finance for the USC, said only 35 per cent of students opt-out of the $91.99 health plan.

Small also offered some of the alternatives the SBTA outlined in the new formulary. Expensive brand-name drugs have alternatives that are just as effective, only with different names, he said.

"It's like you're getting PC instead of Coke."

To Contact The News Department: gazette.news@julian.uwo.ca

Copyright The Gazette 1998