Campus healthcare an untapped resource

Short on money, short on time and high on stress. That combination can oftentimes spell sickness.

But at USF there’s a remedy that is sometimes overlooked: Student Health Services.

SHS functions as a walk-in clinic. The health fee paid in tuition covers most routine care offered by the health center. Other services that are not covered by the health fee are provided with a savings of approximately 30 to 80 percent.

A common question students may find themselves asking is whether SHS accepts insurance. Although it does not accept outside insurance, there is an insurance policy designed specifically for students that covers many SHS fees.

“This policy is primarily for sicknesses and injuries, and is designed for college students,” said Marisol Hernandez, coordinator for student insurance at USF.

In order to keep costs low, the insurance office works with the health center on campus and uses it as the primary physician. There is an annual premium of $598, and it is renewable every August as the school year begins, Hernandez said.

“The student health center has an active role with our policy and keeps the cost down, or else we wouldn’t be able to offer it at the affordable rate,” Hernandez said.

The policy can be purchased annually, monthly or semesterly.

This makes it easier for college students who have hectic schedules, Hernandez said. The plan is provided to assist students, not inconvenience them, Hernandez said. The policy is designed primarily for students, but other individuals affiliated with the university are allowed to enroll, Hernandez said.

“An undergraduate student must be registered for at least six credits and a graduate student must be degree-seeking in order to be eligible,” Hernandez said.

In addition to students, the insurance policy is available for post-doctoral students and fellows, as well as visiting research scholars, English Language Institute students, staff and faculty. The policy and the health clinic provide services to a large number of people every year, Hernandez said. International students also find relief with this policy because the state mandates they have proof of insurance. On-campus services are especially convenient for students new to the area. Of the various people who take advantage of the services, international students are quite involved.

“About 80 percent of the international students purchase it to meet the mandate,” Hernandez said.

Those eligible for the insurance can also enroll their spouses or dependents on their policy as long as they meet the specific criteria, Hernandez said.

According to Hernandez, the majority of people who purchase the health insurance are older students. Often, incoming students are dependents on their parents’ plans and don’t worry about it until later.

Though not all students are aware of the services offered, many are taking advantage of them.

Last year, in April, there was a total of about 4,000 students and eligible individuals who purchased the insurance.