Rowan University, Do NOT Charge Students Co-Pays For The Wellness Center

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We demand that Rowan University continue to provide free Wellness Center visits for students seeking mental health services.

Back in December, a student killed themself on campus, and students/staff/alumni came together to demand a better, more accessible Wellness Center policy for those struggling with mental health on campus. Instead, Rowan is requiring co-pays for Wellness Center visits that will make it even harder for students to access the care they need. 

Rowan University will require co-pays starting August 1, 2018. Not only will this paywall deter students in financial distress from getting help, it will also put students’ privacy at risk. Should a student choose to seek service, their parents will be notified if said student is on their parents’ insurance plan. 

Joe Cardona, Rowan University’s vice president of university relations, claims the school has been dedicating more time to making sure more students can get the help they need, and get said help quickly. He claims that there will be options for students who cannot afford to pay, and that not having the money will not prevent anyone from getting speedy treatment. This is wrong, and it is naive to think that charging students will do anything but make it harder for students to get help. Implementing paywalls will only make it so less students seek help, and make it take even longer for students in financial distress to get help.

David Rubenstein, director of the Wellness Center and vice president of health and wellness, says that the money received from co-pays will help students get more services. However, how these funds will be used to create more accessible services is yet to be announced. Even if they do help improve the Wellness Center in the future, these changes will still be putting students at risk now.

Rowan University’s “solutions” to mental health issues on campus will only serve to put a greater barrier between students and the help they need. In-state students pay $53,688 for four years worth of tuition at Rowan (not including room and board), and yet Rowan can’t afford students the vital medical services they deserve? Fellow New Jersey state universities Stockton University and Rutgers University provide their students with FREE mental health services. Why can’t Rowan?

The fact that Rowan’s response to a tragedy on campus is not to open the doors of the Wellness Center wider for those in need, but to place a paywall between students seeking help is extremely disappointing. Please, sign this petition to let Rowan University know that the decision they’re making is a bad one that will only serve to put more students at risk. We demand that students continue to be provided free mental health services so that everyone can access the resources they need. 

Update: Please note that originally, the wrong tuition price was listed on this petition. It has been updated as of 4/11/18.
Rowan has put up a FAQ regarding the new policy changes. Let’s take a look at the things detailed in this FAQ and how they would negatively affect students’ ability to effectively seek treatment.

Rowan University: Students will not be turned away based on their ability to pay for services. Students who are unable to pay their copayment, coinsurance or deductible will be able to complete a Financial Hardship Request Form at the time of their visit.

This seems like an easy solution to the “students who can’t pay problem,” right? Just have them fill out a form saying that they’re poor and they’ll be let in. Except, wait a second, how is the school going to decide who is going through a financial hardship and who isn’t? Students who are burdened with rent payments, textbook fees, and any other expenses may seem like they’re not going through a “financial hardship” on paper, even though they’re struggling just to afford food to eat. Not only does this plan not necessarily guarantee that poorer students will get help, it also serves as another roadblock to getting treatment. There are already semester long waiting lists, and now students are going to have to fill out paperwork and then wait for that paperwork to be processed before they can get the full treatment they need. If you’re in danger and need immediate treatment, you don’t have time to wait around to see if Rowan University decides you’re worthy of help.

RU: Survivors of sexual assault or dating violence are able to be seen in the Wellness Center without charge. Students...seeking medical care within five days of an assault are encouraged to obtain a forensic exam and prophylactic medication from the Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) without cost and without the use of insurance. ...The Wellness Center will assist the student with all other resources available including Services Empowering Rape Victims (SERV), Public Safety, Title IX services and counseling services to support students during this time.

On paper, this sounds great - they’ll make exceptions for sexual assault victims. Or, it seems, some sexual assault victims. Except, what about the students who aren’t seeking help within five days of an assault? What about sexual assault victims who don’t want to go through the process of getting an invasive forensic exam and don’t want to go through the process of reporting their assault to Public Safety or the police for various reasons? Worst of all, what about victims of abuse/assault who aren’t ready to openly admit they’ve been abused/assaulted? This stipulation will still make it difficult for those affected by such traumas to get the help they need/deserve, and it is naive to think that this is catch-all for sexual assault victims.

RU: All information about you and your health care at the Wellness Center is confidential. Insurance providers, however, have their own policies on releasing what is called the “explanation of benefits” (EOB) to policy holders.

Translation: it’ll be confidential, except for when it won’t be. If you’re a student on your parents’ insurance plan, there’s still a chance they can find out you’re seeking counseling.

Since there’s still such a wide stigma regarding mental health, many people don’t want anyone to know they’re seeking counseling services, not even their parents. The mere idea of their visit being anything less than 100% confidential will be enough to deter certain students. Not to mention, if a student is seeking counseling for anything involving their parents (i.e., if they’re suffering from PTSD due to abuse from their parents), they absolutely are not going to want their parents to be informed of their visits.

RU: Emergency services, including mental health crisis walk-in or on-call and EMS transports, will not cost students any money out-of-pocket and your insurance will not be billed.

Finally, some decent news out of this policy. If you’re really, truly in danger, you can get the help you need free of charge. Problem is, therapy that could prevent a student from ever reaching the point of being in such a crisis will still cost money. Instead of cherry-picking who can and cannot receive free services, Rowan University should be offering the same level of help to everyone, even if they aren’t in immediate danger. The priority should be on giving services that make it so no student will ever need to get to the point where they need to rely on free emergency services. Give them the help they need beforehand - don’t wait for them to put themselves or others in danger.

RU: Students will not be denied care based on their ability to pay. Students will be able to complete a Financial Hardship Request Form application form at the time of their visit.

Refer back to the first FAQ response. This will still get in the way of students receiving the care they need in a timely manner.

RU: Any student may elect to pay for services instead of billing their insurance carrier. Charges may be paid by cash, check, credit card or RowanBucks.

Okay, so you can avoid the privacy issue by not going through your parents’ insurance carrier, but then there’s still the issue of being able to afford your visits. Refer back to the first FAQ response.


Please, sign and share this petition to let Rowan University know we will not stand by and let them place their financial burdens on those in need.