University offers various alternatives for students without health care insurance

For many of the University’s students without health insurance coverage, there are alternatives such as free check ups, University insurance plans and Medicaid.

Lonnie Roberson Nash, 19, a sophomore chemical engineering student from Philadelphia, does not have medical insurance. He has faced trouble in the past for not having coverage. “The difficulties is like the check ups, making sure you’re healthy, getting certain medicines for certain sicknesses – it makes all that harder,” he said.

Nash has been uninsured since he turned 18. He said his expired insurance came as a “birthday present.”

The cost of insurance was the main reason Nash lacked coverage.

“The (cost is) too much money (for a) broke college student,” he said.

There are alternatives for Nash and other students in a similar situation.

Dr. Shankar A. Shetty, director of student health services, said, “We do offer a third-party insurance company to students who would like to buy (it).”

The issue with third-party plans is that student participation is very poor, he said.

“The board of governors wants this insurance to be mandatory for all the university; that means students will have to pay some extra money,” Shetty said. “It’s a possibility, it may become.” The Student Injury and Sickness Insurance Plan offered by the university provides three categories of insurance coverage to students.

The options are offered for undergraduates, graduates and law students.

Students can purchase insurance for themselves, their spouses or any dependents they claim, according to the plan.

The annual cost of coverage is $757 for students. The rate for the fall is $295, and the cost for the summer is $214. If purchased together, the combined cost of spring and summer insurance is $447.

Still, there are students like Nash who cannot afford to pay for insurance coverage.

Shetty recommended students apply for Medicaid.

“In Florida, I don’t know about other states, they can get Medicaid,” Shetty said. “It is a state-sponsored program. It is not easy; you have to have no property, low income or their criteria to meet that.”

There is also a way out for students who need a checkup, but feel discouraged they cannot receive care without insurance coverage.

“Here at the clinic, we do not ask for insurance at all,” Shetty said. “Students pay health fees. If we do blood work and medication, it will be a cost to them. If you have insurance, you can file a claim, but if you don’t then you will have to pay.” Some students have insurance coverage under their parents’ plan. In this situation students do not have to worry about the burdens of medical expenses because they are managed by their parents’ plan.

Michael Anthony White, 18, a pre-medicine biology freshman student from Tampa, has full insurance covered by his father’s military insurance through Aetna Health Insurance.”Everything is handled by the insurance company,” White said.His insurance covers anything from dental to medical needs, but after the expiration date of his insurance he may have to search for other alternatives.

“I’m covered by my father’s insurance until I turn 21,” he said. The university’s Student Health Services brochures list all of the

clinic’s duties as well as important general information. The document states that students are eligible for free visits to the clinic during the terms in which they are enrolled in classes. There is no limit to the amount of visits a student can make to the clinic. Presentation of a valid picture I.D. card is necessary for each visit.

The costs of laboratory studies, x-rays, medications and medical supplies are students’ responsibility.

All students taking six credit hours or more are required to pay the student health fee and are able to take advantage of the care offered at the clinic.