Uninsured students and their health care
Published: Thursday, August 30, 2012
Updated: Thursday, August 30, 2012 15:08
Financially, the life of a college student can be strenuous. Tuition, books, food and transportation costs can already put students close to the edge of their budgets. But on top of these most basic necessities, some students often have to pay out of pocket for medical and dental care.
The average hospital visit can cost less than $100 to more than $1000 for an uninsured patient depending on the services provided, according to “Value in Health, Volume 13.”
Cassie Rasmussen, a junior majoring in family consumer human development, said she was kicked off her parents insurance a year ago after she got married. Her stepfather is retired from the Air Force and Rasmussen said she had been covered under Tri-Care until her marriage.
She said the change from being insured to uninsured has been very difficult, especially because her old insurance had great coverage.
“I only had to pay $12 a visit and that would cover everything I needed,” Rasmussen said.
For a married woman, the realities of being uninsured are not only stressful, but also potentially life changing.
“I can’t be on birth control anymore,” Rasmussen said. “I’m married, so that puts a lot of stress on us.”
She said she doesn’t worry too much about possibly getting pregnant but the concern is still in the back of her mind.
“It would suck really bad,” she said. “I know there is insurance you can get on when you’re pregnant — state insurance. But that is only if you’re pregnant and you’re not offered it anywhere at your job, and then it only covers your child for a couple years.”
Rasmussen said her parents have offered to help her look for another insurance provider but it has been hard to find something that is affordable and offers good coverage.
“My mom could get me on her work insurance, but then she’d have to sign herself up,” she said.
Rasmussen said she believes everybody should be able to have affordable health care, even if it increased taxes.
“I still think health facilities need to be paid but it should be easier for everyone to get it,” she said. Her previous insurance, Tri-Care, did offer good coverage but she said it was still a pain to find hospitals that would take her specific insurance.
“It was really annoying because we had to go to Brigham City because it was the closest hospital that would accept it,” Rasmussen said. Even if you are covered, she said, if you move you might not know where the closest hospital is, and sometimes there are emergencies when you might need to get there quickly.
She said since being uninsured she has gone to Instacare once — and it was $130 just for the visit. She was stuffed up and couldn’t sleep or
breathe, so she bore the financial burden.
“They gave me an antibiotic, and then I had to pay for that too, of course,” Rasmussen said.
The woes of healthcare might be stressful for those without it, but the industry is changing. As of June 28, 2012, “Obamacare,” — Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) — was ruled constitutional by the Supreme Court.
The new act has already put into place many changes, but a lot of students don’t know how this will affect them. According to the PPACA website, many of these changes will take several years to be fully implemented and much of the previous health care laws will remain in effect, such as adult children remaining on their parents’ coverage until 26 years old. Children with pre-existing conditions cannot be excluded from health care coverage.
For students whose parents are uninsured, there will be more insurance plans available on sliding scale fees.
Enrolled USU students still have the option of seeking services at the Health and Wellness Center located north of Romney Stadium. The center provides many services available at hospitals, but does not require a copayment or insurance of any kind. Certain tests do cost money, but at lower costs than an uninsured hospital visit. Students with physical injuries can get physical therapy as well.
Some students worry less about not having insurance. Todd Kendell, senior in engineering, said being uninsured causes little stress for him.
“I’m just extra careful about things that I do and try to not be dumb,” he said. Though he hasn’t had to go to the dentist or doctor since he left his job, Kendell said he does worry about accidents that would be out of his control.
“I think (insurance) is important to have,” he said. “But sometimes money is tight so you just have to make a choice if you’re willing to take the chance or not.”