Posted by: rcieri | May 1, 2009

Students without healthcare find options at health center

Feb 17, 2009

by Rachel Cieri

With more than 3 million Americans newly jobless, some students are now facing the prospect of losing health care coverage.

Director of Health Services Kitty Parrish said she does not have a “magic solution,” but the health center might be able to relieve some of the financial strain.

What some students might not know is that visiting the health center instead of a standard medical practice could actually save them quite a bit of money. The Asheville Area Chamber of Commerce estimates the average doctor visit in the Southeast costs more than $80, but all visits to the R.N. Ellington Health and Counseling Center are free to students.

Medications do carry a charge, but through the health center it’s only a nominal fee, meaning students are only charged a small amount more than the health center paid for it. Patients can also request to be prescribed the least expensive medication possible, typically a generic version rather than a brand name.

“It’s something we do for all students. If the prescription is $4 at Walmart, we’ll let you know,” Parrish said.

But there are strings attached.

All Elon students are required to have some form of health insurance. For students whose parents have lost their jobs, there are a couple of options. Elon offers an “Injury and Sickness Plan” through BCS Insurance Company and students can apply for a public plan through their state of residence.

If a student loses his or her insurance and has not yet found a replacement policy, the student can put any charges on his or her student account to deflect the expenses temporarily. What the health center cannot offer, though, is a pool of money to pay for patient expenses.

Students could also check to see if they qualify for care at Open Door Clinic, Alamance County’s free clinic in Burlington. To qualify for coverage, patients must be both employed, uninsured and North Carolina residents. The clinic is open Tuesdays and Thursdays with limited hours, making it more of a last resort than a place to be treated regularly.

“I don’t have a magic answer because I don’t think there is one right now,” Parrish said. “But we’ll never turn you away.”


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