New UF students will be required to have health insurance

Published: Thursday, March 21, 2013 at 7:31 p.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, March 21, 2013 at 7:31 p.m.

Students at the University of Florida will have to find health insurance or find another school, starting with the incoming students in fall 2014.

UF's board of trustees voted unanimously during a Tuesday meeting to require proof of health insurance as a condition for enrollment.

Students who enter UF before fall 2014, though, will be grandfathered into current requirements, which do not include health insurance.

The proposal cites the safety risks posed by students with serious medical and mental health issues who can't afford treatment. It estimated that 15-17 percent of undergraduates at UF are uninsured.

Insurance offered through UF's GatorCare will apply.

Board member Student Body President TJ Villamil thanked administrators for their work on the new requirement.

"It really means a lot to the students," he said.

Villamil said after the meeting that Florida State University has implemented a similar policy successfully.

"I can't believe that we're following FSU," he joked. The report also cited other schools with similar policies, such as the University of Virginia and the University of California system.

The new requirement will go into effect several months after the federal Affordable Care Act insurance mandate begins. Under the reform, all U.S. citizens will be required to have health insurance beginning Jan. 1, 2014.

Members of the board also discussed potential effects of the federal budget sequester, which mandated cuts across the federal government.

It could affect federally funded financial aid and research money at UF. The sequester will cut an estimated 3.5 percent of research funding for the 2013 fiscal year. Provost Joe Glover said administrators don't anticipate major effects on financial aid for the next year.

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