“Hi, here is a care package on behalf of the Student Wellness Center. Have a happy spring break,” said a student volunteer as she cheerfully went around, dropping care packages on each table at The Pub.
My professor looked at the package, and I was blushing as it contained a condom, dental dam, personal lubricant, sunscreen and information on how to have a safe and happy spring break. Despite the embarrassing expression on my face at the time, I was proud of UTD for taking serious steps in improving the health of its students.
The Student Health Center can now allow students to use its services without having to pay the costs upfront. According to the its website, beginning fall 2014 all students who purchase the UT Student Health Insurance Plan, or UT SHIP, will be able to use it at the Student Health Center.
This was not the case to date, but it is unequivocally a step in the right direction.
In the past, many students paid for UT SHIP, administered through Blue Cross Blue Shield, but still had to pay for certain services upfront and seek reimbursement later.
A cautionary note, the center will still require students who have insurance plans besides UT SHIP to pay costs upfront. The Mercury ran an opinion piece in January on the advantages of purchasing UT SHIP as opposed to public health insurance plans, and it holds more true now.
This clearly points to the university taking the health of its more than 20,000 students seriously.
The Student Health Center, the Student Wellness Center and the Student Counseling Center form the crux of medical services for any student who lives on or off campus. My own personal experience allowed me to use their services in between a hectic class schedule
It is not mandatory, as per UTD’s registration policies, to be enrolled in a health care plan as a permanent resident, but every international student must enroll in a plan. Most of them who tend to simply buy the plan offered by the school can now electronically opt for a waiver rather than being billed and then waiting for a refund if they have an equivalent or competing insurance plan of their own.
The streamlining of this process will save international students around $500 at the beginning of the semester if they have their own health insurance. The opting out can now be done each semester electronically as per the announcement on the website.
With the majority of international students living on campus or close to campus, many of whom may not have a car, the Student Health Center’s clinic is the first and primary choice for health care.
Students who are facing difficulties due to stress and personal issues can take advantage of counseling by certified psychologists on campus, HIV testing and a plethora of information for maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Advice onnutrition and safe sex practices can be easily obtained at the Student Wellness Center.
UTD is taking the steps to ensure a better time for students with respect to their physical and mental well-being, and I applaud them for this.