Students risk health without insurance

Katy Murray
Staff Writer

   Students without health insurance run the risk of not being treated or paying medical bills for a long time

   According to Terri Richardson, registered nurse, a large number of University of Arkansas - Monticello students do not have health insurance coverage. A new survey by the Independent Insurance Agents of America in cooperation with the College Parents of America has corroborated this and added that nearly one in six students returned to college this year without coverage.

   “Health insurance can be one of the biggest financial challenges for college students, especially for those who do not have coverage through their parents,” said Madelyn Flannagan, IIAA’s consumer affairs advocate.

   The survey also found that 84 percent of students and their parents do not know or mistakenly believe that their health insurance will cover them when they travel or study abroad. In many cases however, policies include territorial limitations.

   Additionally other restrictions exist, such as age limit. Most students and parents may be unaware that some policies run out once a student reaches the age of 18. Most plans, however, continue to carry full-time students through their mid-20s. Every plan differs, and it helps to be aware of a policy’s stipulations.

   The IIAA’s research found that a college student may need to consider buying health insurance when:

  • Student’s parents have no health insurance

  • Student attends college part-time

  • Student is planning to travel or study in a foreign country

  • Student is planning to or is currently taking time off from school

  • Student is not employed

  • Student is 23 or older

  • Student is married or has children
   According to Richardson, Student Health Services provides all services and supplies free of charge. However many occasions occur when students need to be referred to an off-campus provider for further evaluation and treatment, but due to lack of insurance and/or money, may be unable to afford that advanced care. In these cases, over-the-counter products and “home remedies,” that have proven effective, may be used. When further care becomes necessary, students sometimes qualify for care at one of the area Mainline Health Systems Inc. clinics. Others have to access care through an emergency room.

   “The lack of health insurance is not a problem specific to UAM students. Nationally, the percentage of college students without health insurance has been estimated to be as high as 40 percent,” Richardson said.

   UAM students can opt to purchase the Arkansas Student Health Insurance Plan available to all students enrolled in six or more credit hours at a participating Arkansas college or university. The plan is underwritten by Guarantee Trust Life Insurance Company and managed by Macori Administration, Inc.

   The plan costs $670 annually. The next open enrollment for a Summer Only Option costs $168 and will be in effect from 5/30/05 – 8/23/05.

   Covered medical expenses include:

  • $35 deductible per injury or illness

  • Hospital Room & Board, semi-private room rate, not to exceed $200/day

  • Surgery 80 percent

  • Inpatient doctor’s fees $35 per visit after first visit

  • Misc. fees (x-rays, lab tests, ER, anesthesia supplies, surgical trays, etc.)

  • $350/injury; $250/illness

  • Ambulance reasonable and customary charges

  • Maternity paid as any other sickness
    For more information or to obtain a brochure with more details, students may contact Student Health Services on the lower level of the University Center or the UAM Insurance & Personnel Office located in Sorrells Hall Room 114-A.

   UAM students have many viable options for health insurance, including this free service. The costs of student health insurance may be reasonably priced but to attend a school with a free service certainly aids those who may get caught in the gap between being covered by their parents’ insurance and having an employer who offers coverage.

   A student facing these problems may come to realize the difference between a bandage and a cast and find that one may cost very little but the other a fortune. College students, especially, should always learn more about their current plan, or if uncovered, search for the best one for their lifestyle, because an emergency would leave little time for error.

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The Voice, 2004
Revised 041112 —