This year, the United States Census Bureau found that 50 million Americans are uninsured and according to VCU’s Wellness Resource Center, about 4,000 VCU students contribute to the nationwide statistic.
According to Katherine Vatalaro, assistant director at the VCU Wellness Resource Center, this means about 11 percent of VCU students are uninsured.
The VCU Wellness Resource Center conducts the American College Health Association’s National College Health Assessment each year. The purpose of the assessment is to evaluate students’ health needs by conducting a random online survey of VCU students.
VCU senior Amaris Lemus is among the 11 percent of students going without a health insurance plan.
“I’ve been without insurance since I’ve turned 18,” Lemus said.
In the past year Lemus said she has spent nearly $1,000 in medical costs.
“I’ve had to go to the ER without insurance three times,” Lemus said. “I … want to say that bronchitis cost me the most. My bill ended up being over $400.”
Lemus said she does not have an insurance plan because of the high prices.
VCU, however, offers students a more economical option called the Student Health Insurance Plan. The plan outlines an entire year of insurance that will cost a student about $2,000.
To be eligible for the coverage undergraduates must be taking six or more credit hours. Graduate students need to be enrolled for at least one credit hour while completing a thesis or dissertation.
The coverage is designed so that only active students may take advantage of the plan. The policy states that students must actively attend classes for at least the first 31 days after the date for which coverage is purchased.
The plan also discounts dental and vision services, access to a 24-hour nurse line, coverage for traveling or study abroad and academic emergency services. Students can also add dependents to their plans, like a spouse or child.
“I think that if I had known about that insurance that VCU offered, I definitely would have considered it,” Lemus said. “It would have saved me a lot of money.”
According to Hill, 323 students are currently are enrolled in the insurance program, but The Well is working to inform more students of the plan at various campus events.
“The Wellness Resource Center is part of Student Health,” Hill said. “We help advertise this insurance plan during presentations at New Student Orientation.”
The Well’s website said all uninsured students are welcome to visit its facility for any health concerns.
“The services at the Wellness Resource Center can be used by any VCU student because we are university fee-funded.,“ Hill said. “We do not ask for health insurance.”
The Well’s services are not the same as a traditional medical office, but rather focuses on a public health and prevention approach to keeping students healthy. VCU’s Student Health Services offers more medical care, such as immunizations and services more like a traditional doctor’s office.
For more information about VCU’s Student Health Insurance Plan, visit www.ahpcare.com/vcu.