University students Nancy Nelson and Jennifer Schumann said they were surprised recently when trips to Boynton Health Service required no co-payment.
Normally, they said, care at another clinic would have required them to pay the standard per-visit costs associated with their insurance plans. As University students, however, that cost is covered by their semester Student Services Fees.
Nelson and Schumann are not alone in their surprise.
Dave Golden, director of public health and marketing at Boynton Health Service, said many students are unaware of the services available to them, regardless of their insurance provider.
“One of the biggest misnomers is that students believe their insurance does not cover them at Boynton,” Golden said. “The truth is that it doesn’t matter whether their insurance covers them or not. The Student Services Fees cover most services.”
Paid by more than 30,000 University students, this semester’s Student Services Fees amounted to $275.79 a person. Sue Jackson, administrative director of Boynton Health Service’s Student Health Benefits Office, said approximately one-third of that fee is spent on student health services.
But many students do not know what is available to them, she said.
University medical student Vanessa Francois-Bongarcon said she was pleased to discover she could receive physical therapy at a reduced cost.
Beyond physical therapy, students can receive such services as allergy shots, eye exams and HIV testing at no cost.
Even smokers trying to quit can receive free smoking-cessation counseling at Boynton Health Service.
But Golden said many students are either unaware of what is available to them or have the wrong idea about what is and is not covered by Student Services Fees.
In an attempt to get the word out, Golden said, Boynton has aggressively posted material online and distributed marketing materials with detailed information about what services are available to students.
One such marketing vehicle is a free, oversized green, yellow and blue magnet that lists the free and reduced-cost services available at Boynton.
Such information came as a relief to University psychology student Carrie Larson, who said she was displeased by the medical attention she was receiving around the Twin Cities area and visited Boynton in hopes of receiving better care.
“I didn’t pay a co-pay, which I thought I would have to,” Larson said. “The doctor I saw was compassionate and really wanted to fix the problem. It didn’t take a large portion of my day, so I could go between classes.”
Jackson and Golden said there are three limitations to this service: the care must be administered at Boynton, medications are not covered and the student must already have hospitalization insurance.
But both said all students at the University are required to have some form of insurance before registering.
This health-benefits issue is particularly confusing for approximately 6,000 students who purchase hospitalization insurance provided by Blue Cross Blue Shield, through the University, Jackson said.
These students are eligible for the benefits provided at Boynton by the Student Services Fees, but Jackson said they must carefully consult the details of their Blue Cross Blue Shield plan to know what other coverage is available to them and their families.
Golden said, “What students need to know is that as long as they have some kind of hospitalization insurance – and it doesn’t need to be the University’s Blue Cross Blue Shield – and they are paying student service fees, almost all of their health services are covered at Boynton.”
– Freelance editor Steven Snyder welcomes comments at [email protected]