Faced with the prospect of being without health insurance coverage in the very near future, graduating seniors are flocking to University Health Service to get one last free check up.
UHS offers students currently enrolled at the University many free health services including clinical visits, radiology and laboratory tests. The services are covered by a health insurance fee that students pay as part of tuition, according to the UHS website. The fee also covers services for a one-to-two week grace period following each term.
Many students are now looking to take advantage of UHS before they lose the free benefits.
Karen Klever, director of managed health care and student insurance said that, there is generally an increase in overall routine clinical appointments made during March and April.
Klever added that last year there was an increase in student traffic during these months in different clinics of UHS. In the pharmacy there was a 13-percent increase, while in the allergy clinic there was a 29-percent increase.
UHS director Robert Winfield said he thinks that the usual rush before summer is due to the anxiety some students are feeling because they know that the services included in their tuitions will end soon.
“March and April, specifically April, are a very busy time at the pharmacy,” Winfield said. “People come into health service doing physical exams for job applications, or getting prescriptions refilled for the next six months or a year, getting birth control pills and general female checkups.”
But once students graduate, they no longer have free access to the services at UHS, and many health care coverage programs that their parents may have don’t cover students once they graduate. As a result, 34 percent of college graduates didn’t have health insurance a year after graduation, according to a 2006 study in a U.S. News & World Report article.
LSA senior Tracy Lent, made one last visit to UHS, said she is anxious about a possible future without health insurance. She added that she is keeping her fingers crossed she won’t get sick in the near future.
“I don’t think I can afford getting my own policy right now without having a real job,” she said. “Right now, it’s kind of like playing a game of Russian roulette.”
LSA senior Julie Foster, said she headed to UHS for one final check up because she doesn’t know if she will have health insurance during graduate school.
“I want to make sure I am up to date with all my prescriptions and am healthy and am getting everything checked out before summer,” she said.
Foster added that if it turns out she doesn’t have health insurance in graduate school, she will make do without.
“The day I graduate is the day my (parents’) insurance coverage ends,” she said.
But LSA senior Chanel Hamilton, who also took advantage of UHS’s services before her upcoming graduation, said she needs health insurance to pay for her monthly treatments and she’s not sure if she’ll be able to afford it after she graduates.
Being without health insurance temporarily could mean that students will search for jobs with sufficient health benefit packages, making the job hunt even more challenging.
Winfield said with the current job market, students will have even more trouble than usual finding jobs that offer adequate health insurance.
“The biggest problem is with the job market as it is — my guess is that more students will go out and get jobs that will not have health insurance,” he said. “Everybody expects that students will try to get into graduate programs because the job market is so weak right now, but those programs generally don’t have health insurance.”
LSA senior Jessica Maurice also recently went to UHS for a last minute checkup. She said she is fortunate that she found a job with health insurance but, because she has lung disease, is concerned about the kind of coverage she will get.
“I need to have a low co-pay to afford all of the medication and treatment that I need,” said Maurice. “And I am off my parent’s insurance as soon as I leave school.”
But LSA senior Mike Tikh said though the company where he will be working won’t be providing health insurance he has a nonchalant attitude about the situation.
“At first, I guess I will have to go without it for a little bit. And hopefully when I start earning enough, I’ll try and try to buy health insurance privately,” he said.
Tikh added that during his time at the University, he has rarely used his UHS benefits.
“I haven’t really been using it all that much the past few years — I haven’t had physicals,” he said. “It’s more of a convenience knowing that it’s there.”
Though some students might rush in for checkups and physicals before their times at the University end, students who purchased health insurance through the University are still covered through August, Klever said.