Leonard Center Room 53
Helping your student manage their health care (and insurance) while at college
- Adjusting to College
25 Challenges for Students and Their Parents
Make sure your student has adequate health insurance. It relieves concerns that can distract or even hinder them in their college experience. It can also avoid potential financial catastrophe. Macalester requires that all students have health insurance and currently offers a plan through Aetna Student Health if the student does not have health insurance or wishes to obtain a supplemental plan. If your student has an insurance plan from home, make sure that it provides adequate coverage in the community/area where they will be attending college. If coverage for care outside of network is not available or is seriously reduced, you might consider adding on the college’s health insurance option.
- Make sure your student has his/her own insurance card if they are continuing under the family plan. You might even scan it and email it to them so that they can access a copy in case of an emergency even if they have lost the original card.
- Review with your student how to use their insurance – what has to be preapproved, where to call for questions. Explain the concept of co-pays and deductibles and why they might have to pay for some or all of their care at time of service.
- Work out an agreement with your student about what you expect to be informed about and how. Remember, there may be some things that are appropriate for them to handle independently or to keep confidential; if they have to tell you everything, they may not get the care or support they need if it is perceived to be embarrassing. Any charges that a Macalester student incurs from the Health & Wellness Center (HWC) will be billed to their student account - it will not list what the charge was for, merely that it is an HWC charge. It could be anything from a flu shot to lab tests to medication or one of the few procedures/services charged for. The lack of specific information is intentional to comply with HIPAA and protect your student's privacy. The student can request an appropriate bill from HWC to submit to insurance; again, work out with your student what you need to see, need to know (or not know), etc.
- Your student’s medical and counseling records are private – even from parents. If your student is 18+ years of age, you will not have access to their health records unless your student has given written permission. The HWC cannot even tell you if they have been seen (in most cases). HIPAA and FERPA laws inform these policies. This is why it is important for you to talk to your son/daughter ahead of time about how you will communicate on these issues. That being said, most colleges will contact parents if the student’s health is at risk (e.g. serious hospitalization) or if their student status is at risk; that is the case at Macalester and is handled through the Office of Student Affairs. If a student is hospitalized, the hospital will frequently contact the family before the college may know the hospitalization status.
- If your student has a chronic health concern –either medical or mental health – identify a provider in the area of the college to transition care to. This is very important as many college health services, especially in smaller colleges, do not have the resources to manage chronic or complicated conditions. While Macalester has excellent staff, we are not able to handle every health care concern. Finding a specialist in the area that your student can establish a relationship with is important to do BEFORE an urgent need arises. The staff of the college health service can help refer you to providers.
- Make sure the Health & Wellness Center has all the information they need to properly care for your student. Withholding information can hamper the health care providers in giving your student the best care possible. If your student has a pre-existing or chronic condition, make sure to have copies of relevant information sent to the Health & Wellness Center.
- The Macalester HWC does it's best to provide quality medical and counseling services for its students. That being said, the HWC does have limits of care. There may be times when appointments are not immediately available or there are not the resources available, or appropriate, for the care your student needs or requests. At those points, referral to an off-campus provider will be made. The college is fortunate to have quality off-campus providers relatively close to campus that are familiar in dealing with college students. We will assist them in locating the provider, identifying transportation alternatives (cab vouchers which are billed to the student account are always available from the HWC or residential life), processing insurance, and providing follow-up. One of our goals is to help students be able to effectively utilize health care in the community. While students may initially be frustrated if they have to go off-campus, we are confident that they are building skills around health care management and should be able to have a quality experience.