Fight for Better Health Care at UW-Oshkosh

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My name is Lauren McMicking and I am a senior at UW-Oshkosh. I am from an average middle class family, where we were never in need, but money wasn’t something we threw around. Luckily, as a child we had good insurance, so I was never prevented from going to the doctor if I needed care. However, when I came to UW-Oshkosh and learned about the Health Center, many things became concerning. I quickly found out that many basic services at the Health Center cost money out of pocket, money that many students can’t afford to spend.

When I was a freshman, I had mono tuberculosis. When I first fell ill, I went to the only clinic I had easy access to, the University Health Center, for diagnosis. They ran 4 separate blood tests at $20 a piece. This cost me $80 total, none of which they could charge to my insurance. For a college student, this is an absurd amount of money to dish out without knowing if any of the tests will come back positive. I was shocked at the time, but soon found out this is just one of the many things that are costly to students at the Health Center. A simple flu shot is $20, a sports physical another $30, both things that many people have to get every year.

Everytime I have been to the Health Center I have had wonderful experiences with the staff and the students who work there. While they were all wonderful, it doesn’t make up for the fact that it is too costly for students to get the care they need.

Unlike most healthcare providers, the Student Health Center does not accept insurance. Instead, the university expects students to get a receipt outlining the treatment they received, submit it to their insurance company, and hope that the insurance company covers the treatment. When a student goes into the Student Health Center to get a blood test or other routine procedure, they have no way to know for sure if the care will be covered or not. The Student Health Center website states that the university charges “a minimal” fee for treatments like physicals, lab tests, procedures, injections and medications. But for college students who balance school and work, all while holding massive student loans, $80 for a blood test is not a minimal fee.

My parents pay $1,650 for health insurance a month for our entire family, but while I am at school, the money they pay for me to be covered is a waste.  Many students don’t have a car to be able to drive to another walk in clinic or urgent care center. They’re forced to pay high fees out of pocket and go to the Health Center anyways. As a middle class student, these high fees were a burden but manageable; for many other students, they could mean having to skip lunch or forgo buying a textbook.

Other schools like UW-Madison provide most treatments free of charge and offer their own student insurance plan to help students receive coverage at hospitals and clinics around Madison. Students can even request financial aid to help pay for health insurance.  UW-Oshkosh students deserve a similar quality of care.

By accepting insurance, UW-Oshkosh’s healthcare still won’t be perfect, but it’s a big step in in the right direction. Join me in calling on our administration to do the right thing and give students the healthcare access they deserve.

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