The words “No Caps-No Hikes-Affordable Care” were printed on a banner and held behind several activists from the local UC Student-Workers Union (UAW 2865), who led a rally at the Student Health Center at 11:30 a.m. and a “sick-in,” similar to a sit-in, from 12–1 p.m. on Feb. 13.
Over 100 faculty, students and staff gathered on the sidewalk to protest proposed increases to the UC Student Health Insurance Plan (UC SHIP), an insurance program provided for the faculty, students and staff of University of California. UC SHIP is projecting a $57 million deficit because of actuarial errors that have been accruing since 2010–a result of poor planning by the actuarial firm Aon Hewitt, which helped SHIP set up the original premium plan.
Micha Rahder, a teaching fellow for the anthropology department, gave a speech at the protest where she stated that the university insurance no longer covered her after several expensive procedures. Days earlier on Feb. 11, Rahder sent out a press release inviting people to the protest.
“UC executives are reporting a loss of $57 million in the student health plan due to a financial miscalculation, and are proposing to cover this deficit with a fee increase of up to … $600 per year,” the press release read. “It is unclear whether financial aid will be able to cover this increase for students in need.”
Three police officers stood nearby as the protest occurred.
At noon the first speaker, UAW 2865 activist and main organizer Josh Brahinsky, stood up with a microphone on the Student Health Center sign and delivered a three-point demand for remediating campus insurance. With microphone in hand, Brahinsky called for no more lifetime caps on insurance coverage, for no future price-hikes and for more affordable payments for care under the campus insurance program.
Participants in the crowd held signs stating “Honk for Healthcare!” and “We are not banks!” as activists delivered more speeches to the sound of chants and car horns.
A custodial staff member, an undergraduate student and a faculty member also spoke at the protest about worker insurance deficiencies, denial of coverage for undocumented students and denial of coverage due to benefit-caps, respectively.
At one point during the protest, Brahinsky stood atop the Student Health Center sign holding a poster-board on which Chancellor Blumenthal’s phone number was written down. Students then placed calls in unison to demand campus insurance reform.
The protest ended with a small group of sign-holders occupying sidewalks on both sides of the street. At multiple points protesters stood in the street and obstructed oncoming traffic as they sent chants ringing through the air.
“No hikes (no hikes), no fees (no fees), all our health care should be free.”