Student health insurance doesn't have to be confusing
Published: Thursday, February 28, 2013
Updated: Thursday, February 28, 2013 14:02
Some USU students may not be aware of the health insurance provided by the university and their current health insurance status. Understanding insurance policies can be beneficial for staying financially stable when accidents arise.
Elise Nelson, a sophomore majoring in exercise science, said she knows very little about her insurance coverage.
“All I know is that I am still covered by my parents insurance,” she said. “I don’t really know anything about the policy.”
Noell Hansen, the insurance coordinator and specialist for the Student Health and Wellness Center, said they are not selling their health insurance to students for profit, and the best interest of students is always first priority.
For students who choose to buy insurance from the university, the coverage expands over many areas, she said.
“It is a good policy, very broad spectrum. It covers a lot of things,” Hansen said. “For example, it covers preventative type of care, the day-to-day sore throats and colds, accidents, to more significant types of situations like cancer and heart attack patients, more severe problems that no student plans on coming across.”
Hansen said the university’s goal is provide students with the best option when it comes to insurance.
“I am here as a student advocate. I don’t work for the insurance company, so I am not here to push you one way or another,” Hansen said. “You just have someone here to let you know what your options are and somebody to stand up for you if you’re having a hard time with the insurance. I work as the mediator.”
Hansen said students being on their parent’s health insurance is not a risky move, but knowing the details of the policy is key to attaining the right plan to fit the right lifestyle.
“It depends on what kind of a policy the student is on,” Hansen said. “I have seen some really good outcomes for some students that are able to stay on their parent’s insurance up until the age of 26 even if they are married. I have also seen students that are on the USU health insurance get just as many benefits. It all just depends on the policy.”
The SHWC is open to all students who are enrolled with at least one credit hour, whether they have insurance through the university or not. The SHWC is open Monday through Friday 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and is closed weekends and after hours.
For students who have insurance through the university, the policy covers unexpected injuries and illnesses occurring on the weekends or evenings. The policy also has agreements written into it with other physicians in Cache Valley who can take care of more serious problems beyond the SHWC’s capabilities.
Despite this, some students still don’t know about what’s available through USU.
“I haven’t heard much about USU health insurance or the Health and Wellness Center,” Nelson said. “I haven’t had any big issues come up that I needed to go to the doctor for, so it hasn’t been a priority to learn more.”
Although students might not come across accidents, injuries or illnesses often, the future is not predictable and once the patient is treated in the emergency room, the bill starts adding up. Knowing the details of the policy you use is crucial to a financially stable future, Hansen said.
“You can not always prevent yourself from injuries or becoming ill, but you can prevent yourself from financial hardship,” Hansen said.
Zach Portman, a second year Ph.D. student in biology, is the senator of the Student Health Advisory Committee. The organization helps students come together and decide what would be best for the student body.
“The main duties of the SHAC are recommending whether or not to increase the health fee each year, deciding on the details of the next years USU health insurance plan and advising the health center of ways to better serve USU students,” Portman said.
USU graduate students are required to have health insurance. They are automatically enrolled in the USU plan unless they waive it by showing they have equivalent insurance from another provider, Portman said.
“In all honesty, the insurance plan is not that great,” Portman said. “However, the departments subsidize 80 percent of the cost of the insurance for graduate students who work for them as a T.A., R.A., G.I., etc., so graduate students face the choice to either pay the subsidized amount for crappy insurance or go out and buy insurance individually for a lot more money. Obviously, most students choose the subsidized insurance.”