ASUCI and Health Center Co-host USHIP Forum

ASUCI and the UC Irvine Student Health Center hosted a Health Insurance Forum last Wednesday at the Student Center, giving students information about the Student Health Center and the benefits they receive from the University Student Health Insurance Plan (USHIP).

ASUCI President  Nicole Hisatomi, a fourth-year political science and public health policy double major, , mentioned why she created the forum.

“I had just started sitting on the health insurance forum committee and I realized we cover a lot more things than I initially thought we covered. When I had asked around the office and friends, I realized not a lot of people knew about the benefits or how to use them. I thought we should put together a forum for students to come and learn about the health insurance they pay for,” Hisatomi said.

Sandy Yang, an insurance supervisor, and Charles Adam from the Student Health Center, presented information about the Student Health Center and USHIP, and answered a few of the most common questions they have been asked.

The Student Health Center provides services such as general medicine, urgent care and women and men’s health, and has a nurse clinic, a dental clinic, an in-house pharmacy and a clinical laboratory.

The center  is open Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Wednesdays and Thursdays. This pilot program will continue until June, when the center will reassess during the summer and continue in the fall.

The Student Health Center is trying to increase access to care by improving the appointment system. They will do this by increasing the number of time slots and creating a new open access scheduling system.

“A concern is that a lot of students walk in without urgent situations,” Adam said. “We are going to become more strict about the walk-ins because it prevents students who make an appointment to be seen on time due to it being pushed back by walk-ins.”

All full and part time undergraduate and graduate students are automatically enrolled in USHIP. The cost is $1,359 a year that is split into three quarters. This is automatically included in tuition. Coverage repeats every academic year.

The plan includes a $300 deductible, which is the out of pocket expense paid before insurance is covered. This deductible is not applicable at the Student Health Center. A $15 co-payment, which is the cost students pay before their services, is paid at the Student Health Center. To see a specialist, it is a $30 co-payment.

Vision and dental benefits are included as well. $120 is covered with 20 percent off the remaining amount for either glasses or contacts. One thousand dollars worth of service is covered for dental. Vision and dental are included in USHIP and cannot be opted out of.

Vision is covered by Anthem, medical by Cigna, and dental by Delta Dental. All three require different insurance cards. Anthem and Delta Dental mail them to students. Cigna does not; students need to print them out themselves from the Student Health Centers website.

The UC system requires all students to have medical insurance as a nonacademic condition of enrollment.

Students who qualify under their parent’s health insurance that meets the requirements of the UC have the option to waive out of USHIP during a certain period. A problem many students have is they miss the waiver period.

“I have juniors who don’t know about the waiver period or that they have health insurance. If they didn’t waive out, they have insurance through USHIP,” Yang said.

If a student has waived out, they can still be seen at the health center. They would have to pay for the services first and file a claim later through their insurance. If waived out, students have the option to waive back in.

With USHIP, all care must start at the Student Health Center. Before students can go see a primary doctor, they need to get a referral from the health center first.

“This is one of the areas we have the most problem with students,” Adam said. “Students will go to a specialist and won’t come to us first. The physician they saw will send them a bill and it will not be covered.”

If health visit is needed after health center hours and constitutes as an emergency, is over the 50-mile radius or is for vision or dental care, a referral is not needed. Students who go to the emergency room during an emergency will not be penalized. They will, however, pay a $50 co-payment for urgent care and $100 for emergency costs.

Questions were then open for the audience to ask. Information regarding women’s health and coverage for those graduating was addressed.

Women’s health such as birth control, pregnancy tests and STD  tests are covered by USHIP as preventative care with the $15 co-payment. Intrauterine devices (IUD’s) will need a referral to see a specialist.

Students graduating this spring would be covered for the summer. Graduates are allowed to purchase insurance for fall quarter if they need to.

Hisatomi commented, “I would like to see a continuation of something like this with more students being able to come and to have just a general better knowledge of how health insurance works on campus.”