University adjusts CHWS health fees
Health services provided by the University have had two causes for change this year. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act along with the Health and Human Services (HSS) regulations have mandated that the insurance plan previously provided by the school (Student Accident & Sickness) meet certain standards that are typical of a health insurance company. Associate Vice President for Business Services John Hickey says that if the University had tried to meet the standards, it would have cost $1500-$2000 a year per student for this academic year. The old plan was $165.
The University decided it would be better for students if they could choose their own health insurance, rather than meet the standards and demand students pay the new fees, especially considering many students are from out of state.
“This is what made it extra challenging,” Hickey said. “Students come from out of state; they have rules that are different by state. For example, someone from Ohio might have coverage that apply to different things than someone from California.”
Therefore, an insurance plan is no longer offered by the University, but students may find information to other sources of insurance on the school website.
Meanwhile, Counseling, Health and Wellness Services (CHWS) now charges for routine appointments, which were previously free of charge previously.
“It has become necessary us to add the $20 per visit fee in order to continue to provide the same level of medical care to students on campus,” CHWS Director/Medical Coordinator Linda Everson said.
Counseling services continue to be free, and other services such as routine physicals, women’s annual exams, STD testing and minor surgical procedures continue to have fees.
An anonymous student with an autoimmune disease, who becomes sick more easily and severely than normal, needs to go to the doctor as soon as symptoms of illness arise. The student feels discriminated against, and said, “Now that I have to pay, I am deterred from going when I think I’m getting sick. I’m more likely to put off going until it’s more serious, which is bad considering my immune disorder.”
When asked how CHWS provides for students with disabilities, Everson said, “As health care providers, we are concerned about barriers to care, and it would always be our preference to provide these services without charge. Any time a student believes the visit fee is a barrier to care we would encourage that student to come to CHWS to talk with me or their provider about their concern.”
The cost of operating a medical clinic and purchasing supplies increases each year, and the fee increase helps to defray these increased costs. It is important to note that the cost of care on campus remains more affordable than the private sector. Students with specific needs should go speak to Everson about the costs of their care, and should not refuse to go seek medical help when it is necessary.
Everson reminds students that though CHWS does not provide direct billing to student’s insurance companies, students will be provided with itemized bills for submission to their private insurance providers. When a student charges fees to their account in Financial Services, no medical information is shared and it will appear only as a CHWS fee. Confidentiality laws prevent any details about an appointment going to anyone aside of CHWS without the student’s written consent.
For those unfamiliar with CHWS, it should be noted that students can call CHWS to schedule counseling appointments, and they can walk-in Monday through Friday from 1 to 3 p.m. for a briefer appointment.
For medical care, students should make an appointment as early in the day as possible. Everson would like students to be aware that CHWS provides flu shots at $26 dollars without an additional appointment fee. CHWS also provides low-cost STD testing, free condoms and has birth control available by appointment at a cost ranging from $14 to $17 per packet. Once a student has an initial annual appointment, birth control can be refilled without a follow-up appointment.
CHWS is working on expanding their list of local low-cost medical resources for student use after hours or on the weekends.