International students carry many burdens during their time in Athens. Distance, language barriers, cultural chasms – these things all make life rather challenging for international students.
Another is money – specifically, having to pay Ohio University for health insurance coverage, regardless of whether they have coverage from their home countries. American students can opt out of the university’s health insurance plan if they can present proof of coverage.
That may soon change.
Under pressure from both the Student Senate and the Graduate Student Senate, OU officials are working with their insurance broker, Wells Fargo, to determine ways to address that disparity.
According to Graduate Student Senator Ed Simpson, “We would like Wells Fargo to determine by summer’s end what the results of their review will be.”
Asked if he thought this would have a negative impact on international student attendance, Simpson said, “No. Actually, we think it’ll be an advantage, and we think it’ll lead to increased attendance from international students.”
Dean of Students Ryan Lombardi has stated that the main issue is whether or not the foreign health insurance coverage plans properly cover students. While there haven’t been any issues yet, according to Simpson, the possibility still remains that issues could crop up in the future. One of the gaps discovered by the university concerns whether or not insurance would pay to have a student’s body shipped back to the country of origin in the event of death.
According to the 2010 Ohio University Factbook, there are 1,437 international students at the university. The vast majority hail from the Far East, where the university has partnerships with several institutions of higher education.