Student Health Services

Daniel Yanez, Staff Reporter

Having health insurance is important for maintaining your health and well-being but the price of insurance isn’t always affordable, especially for college students already on a tight budget. 

While not having health insurance may discourage students and other individuals from visiting the doctor’s office, it does not need to be a determining factor in an individual’s well-being. 

Although the cost of insurance varies on the type of coverage policy, group or individual plans, and out-of-pocket expenses, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics in 2018 the average consumer spent $3,405 on the cost of health insurance. Other factors that can contribute to the cost of insurance include a participant’s age, location, personal needs or medical conditions, the type of provider network and whether that person qualifies for a subsidy. 

For TAMUC student Jazmin Netro, a biological sciences major, the cost of insurance has been an investment for her and her husband, especially for tough and unexpected times. 

“Insurance did not have the greatest impact on me until my husband was diagnosed with cancer,” Netro said. “Because of insurance we were able to get treatment and have two surgeries done and only paid $2,000 out-of-pocket.”

Netro said she credits owning a company with her husband to being able to afford insurance but that she understands every college student has different circumstances. She said encourages those without coverage to seek out affordable insurance options either through a job or other outside insurance source. 

While the cost of insurance, prescription drugs and healthcare continues to increase in the United States there are still options for accessible care and affordable insurance.

In fact, a reachable healthcare option is available to students. At Texas A&M University-Commerce the Student Health Services center currently offers students primary care services including treatment options for acute illness and injuries as well as assistance with mental health concerns and patient education on how to develop and maintain a healthy lifestyle. 

Students must be enrolled in the current semester to see a medical provider for free, however, additional services or procedures will incur a cost. The student health clinic currently accepts TAMUC’s student health insurance, Blue Cross and Blue Shield, United HealthCare, Aetna and Cigna health insurance as well as private pay options.  

Students who do not have current health insurance coverage can enroll for an academic health plan through the Texas A&M University System student health insurance regulation. The regulation exists so that coverage is made available to all students and international students attending on F or J visas and students can enroll in different coverage periods similar to academic semesters.

On average, the university health center sees 12,500 students per year. Kelly Daily, the Business and Financial Coordinator for Student Health Services said currently two out of every three students seen have medical coverage from one of the insurance plans that are accepted by the clinic.

Aside from acute care and injury treatment the health center also offers allergy injections, birth control, EKG’s, immunizations, flu shots, tuberculosis testing, x-rays, lab testing, minor surgical procedures, physical exams, splints, STD/STI testing and treatment, stitches, wart treatment, women’s health, minor wound care and free condoms. 

“We offer many services and want to make sure the student population knows what those services entail,” Daily said. 

Daily said the mission for Student Health Services is to enhance the academic success of patients by providing accessible, high quality medical care, and to promote healthier lifestyles to achieve and maintain lifelong health and wellness. 

“We want to do this in a compassionate and caring environment,” Daily said.

In the fall 2019 semester the Student Government Association passed the Student Health Fee Referendum allowing the implementation of a $75 fee per fall and spring terms and $25 for summer terms to be diverted to Student Health Services. 

According to the 2019 Student Health Fee Referendum Voters Guide, this dedicated student health fee will replace funding for student health services rather than drawing from student service fee allocations. 

According to the same guide currently 34% of student service fees goes to student health services. Although the fee is not in effect yet, this new fee will create a new budget for student health services and allow the expansion of their services including the addition of a registered dietician and a campus health educator.

Daily said the addition of a registered dietician will help students with healthy meal planning, diet related concerns and nutrition options to promote health and disease management. The health educator will create and present programs on various topics that affect the student population including the use of alcohol and drugs, smoking, sexual health and other health matters.