Finding Health Care Support on Campus


Finding Health Care Support on Campus

by Chloe Bautista
July 9, 2024
Three students sit in a waiting room at their college campus' health center.

Health care is a crucial aspect of student life, significantly influencing academic performance and overall well-being. For students, managing health and wellness while balancing academic responsibilities can be challenging. This is where campus health care support systems come into play. These systems are designed to provide comprehensive health services and to help ensure that students have access to the care they need to thrive both physically and mentally.

Understanding Campus Health Services

By offering a wide range of services tailored to meet the diverse needs of the student population, campus health centers are the cornerstone of student health support.

Campus health centers typically offer general medical care, mental health services, and sexual health support. These centers are conveniently located on or near campus, making it easy for students to access care without having to travel far. They often operate during regular business hours, with some offering extended hours to accommodate students' schedules.

Types of Services Offered
  • General Medical Care: This includes routine check-ups, treatment for minor illnesses and injuries, immunizations, and health screenings.
  • Mental Health Services: Counseling, therapy sessions, and psychiatric services are available to help students manage stress, anxiety, depression, and other mental health issues.
  • Sexual Health: Services include contraceptive options, sexual health screenings, and education on safe sex practices.
Accessing Health Services

Accessing these services is straightforward. Most campus health centers allow students to schedule appointments online or by phone. Many also offer walk-in services for urgent needs. It's important for students to familiarize themselves with the appointment process and understand the availability of services.

Privacy and Confidentiality

Privacy and confidentiality are paramount in campus health services. Health centers comply with federal and state privacy laws, such as HIPAA. This ensures that all medical records and communications between students and health care providers remain confidential.

Students should expect that their health information will not be shared without their consent, except in cases where it is legally required or in situations involving immediate danger. Most health centers also use secure electronic health records systems to protect data from unauthorized access. Furthermore, staff members are trained in privacy practices and are committed to maintaining confidentiality in all interactions.

Preventing Your Parents or Insurance Holder from Knowing About Your Services

Students can take several steps if they don’t want their campus health care services communicated to their parents or the primary insurance holder, including: 

  • Opting Out of Insurance Billing
    When visiting the campus health center, explicitly tell them that you do not want them to bill your primary insurance provider. Make this request clear during check-in and on any forms you fill out. Some health centers may have a waiver or form to formally opt out of insurance billing. Ask if such a form is available and ensure you complete it.
  • Paying Out-of-Pocket
    Choose to pay for services out-of-pocket instead of using insurance. This might involve paying at the time of service or setting up a payment plan with the health center. Before receiving services, ask about the costs so you can plan accordingly. Health centers often provide estimates for services.
  • Requesting Confidentiality
    Make a formal request that your health information not be shared with your insurance provider or parents, and ensure this request is documented in your medical records.
  • Using Campus Health Insurance
    If available, use the campus health insurance plan for services at the health center. This insurance is often designed to be used exclusively on campus, reducing the likelihood of communication with your primary provider.
  • Following Up and Monitoring
    After your visit, follow up with the health center to confirm that your request has been honored and no communication has been made to your insurance provider. Regularly check any billing statements or explanations of benefits from your primary insurance to ensure no unexpected claims have been submitted.

Mental Health Support

Mental health is a significant concern for many students, and campuses generally provide extensive support to address this issue.

Counseling Services

Counseling services are a key component of campus mental health support. Some of these services include individual and group therapy sessions, which offer students a safe space to discuss their concerns and develop coping strategies.

Workshops and Support Groups

Many campuses offer workshops on stress management, coping strategies, and other mental health topics. These workshops provide practical tools and techniques to help students navigate the challenges of college life. Additionally, support groups offer a community of peers who share similar experiences, providing mutual support and understanding.

Online Resources

Teletherapy options allow students to receive counseling services remotely, which can be especially convenient for those with busy schedules or who prefer the privacy of their own space. Mental health apps and digital support tools also provide valuable resources, such as guided meditations, mood tracking, and educational materials.

Sexual Health and Wellness

Sexual health and wellness are vital aspects of student health, and campuses offer various services to support this. Student health centers typically provide access to contraceptives, sexual health screenings, and education on safe sex practices. These services are essential for preventing sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and unintended pregnancies. Health centers often conduct workshops and distribute informational materials to educate students about sexual health.

LGBTQ+ Health Services

Support for LGBTQ+ students is a critical component of campus health services. These services include health care tailored to the specific needs of LGBTQ+ individuals, safe spaces, and inclusive health care practices. Many campuses have student organizations dedicated to supporting LGBTQ+ students, offering resources, events, and advocacy.

Managing Chronic Illness on Campus

Managing a chronic illness while attending college can be challenging, but many campuses provide resources to help. Students with chronic illnesses can find support through campus health centers, which often have programs and services specifically designed to assist them. This support can include regular monitoring, medication management, and lifestyle counseling.

Coordination with Off-Campus Health Providers

For students who require specialized care, campus health centers can coordinate with off-campus health providers. This ensures that students receive comprehensive care and can manage their conditions effectively while staying on track with their studies.

Costs and Insurance

Many services are covered under student health insurance plans, which are often included in tuition fees. For services not covered, campus health centers usually offer affordable rates. Students should review their insurance coverage and inquire about any additional costs to manage their health care expenses effectively.

Campus health care support systems play a vital role in ensuring that students have access to the health services they need. From general medical care and mental health support to sexual health services and chronic illness management, these resources are designed to help students maintain their health and well-being. By understanding and utilizing these services, students can navigate the challenges of college life with greater ease and confidence.

Chloe Bautista is an incoming senior at Indiana University studying law and public policy. A member of the Indiana University Student Foundation and Alpha Phi Omega service fraternity. She is writing for Power to Decide to bring awareness to the changing reproductive landscape.