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Healthcare & College Students: What You Need to Know

8 Jul final_student_healthcareedited

Up to this point in your life, there’s a very good chance that you’ve never picked up the phone to schedule a doctor’s appointment.  There’s also a very good chance that you’ve never thought about how medical insurance works. The receptionist at the doctor’s office takes the information and the charges get paid, right?  Well, sometimes, but this is typically not the case.  Many people are covered by an employer-provided insurance plan. Often, these plans have high deductibles, and a limited number of physicians you’re allowed to see. As a college student, healthcare is probably the last thing on your mind,but it shouldn’t be. Unexpected healthcare costs could really put a bind on your already stretched college budget.

But don’t worry, the process isn’t as complicated as it seems.  With a little planning and preparation you can learn how to manage your healthcare dollars wisely. Here’s how:

Be Preparedfinal_student_healthcareedited.jpg

Have a plan and know your benefits before you need to use them.  Ask your parents if you are covered by their medical insurance and for how long. Most plans will cover you until you are 26. Once you find out this basic information, call the customer service number on the back of your insurance card.

Ask your insurance company:

  • Am I covered while I am away from home? Some plans only cover for emergency services when you are away from home.
  • Am I covered at Purdue University Student Health Services? PUSH is out of network for all insurance plans except the student resources plan offered by the university.
  • What percentage will your insurance pay? What percentage will be your responsibility? You will be responsible to pay for services not covered or the balance after insurance payment.

Once you are familiar with your current insurance coverage, you can go here to see the plan offered by the university.  Read the plan coverage and do a quick cost/benefit analysis to decide whether this plan would be more or less cost effective for you and your individual circumstances.

Purdue University Student Health Services (PUSH)

Purdue Student Health Services is a student-oriented healthcare facility on campus.  The providers at PUSH understand college health and its impact on your academic success. This is a great resource for affordable, accessible healthcare. Most currently enrolled students on the West Lafayette campus are eligible to be seen at PUSH. Students enrolled full time during any semester can be seen for an illness or injury at no charge.  Students enrolled part time are eligible to be seen, but they will have to pay an office visit charge.  There are fees for all other services, including laboratory, radiology, physical therapy, women’s services, allergy and immunization services, and sports medicine. Although there are fees for most services at PUSH, the fees are typically less than they would be if you were to go to a provider off campus (good to know if your percentage of required out-of-pocket expense is high). If you are at PUSH for an office visit and your provider recommends any testing or treatment, regardless of your insurance coverage, it’s always best to ask our business office how much the test/treatment will be and find out from your insurance company how much they will pay for that particular charge.

Don’t forget to utilize the Business Services department at PUSH.  Often, they can help you choose the most cost-effective path forward with your healthcare.

Practice Healthy Habits

Now that you will be learning how to manage your own health and healthcare with less parental involvement, it’s important to remember that taking care of yourself matters in the learning process.  Staying healthy is going to save you the most money in terms of healthcare expenses.  Good nutrition, sleep, and exercise are as important as studying for that final exam. You are going to be learning habits now that will impact your wellness for the rest of your life. In the long run, taking care of your health, managing your healthcare, and being a wise consumer with your healthcare dollars will reward you, and your bank account.

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