Health insurance is one of the most important benefits that an individual should have, but the cost of health insurance makes it difficult for many students to pay for their own coverage.
According to Kamal Harb, director of USF’s Health and Promotion Services, all undergraduate students must have health insurance that is provided through the university’s health care plan unless they show proof that they have their own health insurance, in which case they can waive the school’s health insurance at the beginning of every school year. USF’s health plan is sponsored by Aetna and the annual cost for students is $1,019. According to the USF web site, the plan covers 90 percent of hospital costs and boasts a $10 generic prescription plan. Although a student has health insurance, he or she may still have problems accessing services that their insurance provides without paying upfront. Natalie Filter, a junior nursing major, said that in October she was overcharged $220 for lab tests from St. Mary’s Hospital. She is still waiting to be reimbursed. Filter said, “It’s free [the clinic], however if you need anything done, you need to pay.” Another student, Ryan McLaughlin, a junior media studies major, said that when he sprained his ankle, he gave St. Mary’s his insurance card, and they still charged him $1,500. He was reimbursed for the out of pocket cost by his insurance company though after his father spoke to the company about what had happened.
There is uncertainty among students when it comes to their health insurance coverage after they age out of their parents’ plans. Fletcher Stumps-Smith, a senior mathematics major, said, “Either student insurance provided in graduate school will last me, or I will find an employer that provides me health insurance.” Filter said that she will find a job that has good health insurance. She hopes to get a good plan because, she said, “Even though you have a good salary, a bad health plan is not worth it.” Ally Coates, a senior theology and religious studies major, said that she is not sure what she is going to do after she becomes too old to receive insurance through her parents’ health insurance policy.
Harb said if a student is aging out of their insurance, they should contact Health and Promotion Services so that they can talk about the different plans the school sells to students. If the student is looking for health insurance, he or she should look at the annual deductible, which is the difference after the insurance company pays their portion of the coverage. This deductible usually does not include the price of prescription medications. For students who do not have health insurance, Harb said there is a San Francisco program called Healthy San Francisco that makes health services accessible for people who are living in the city and are uninsured. Lastly, he encouraged students to be proactive and know when they are going to age out of their parents’ insurance and to ask Health and Promotion Services for more information about student health insurance plans made available by the university.