UTEP health insurance available for students for in-center care

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UTEP health insurance available for students for in-center care

The Student Health center is located in front of the east entrance of the student union building.

The Student Health center is located in front of the east entrance of the student union building.

Andres Martinez

The Student Health center is located in front of the east entrance of the student union building.

Andres Martinez

Andres Martinez

The Student Health center is located in front of the east entrance of the student union building.

Ben Woolridge, Staff Reporter

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Although all UTEP students are eligible for health insurance through the university’s Student Health Insurance Plan, getting them to enroll is not an easy task.

The UT System plan is part of the Preferred Provider Organization, and has a monthly premium of $125, which is coupled with a $500 yearly deductible. It provides students with primary care at the Student Health Center and is compatible with the Affordable Care Act.

Unlike ACA and other health insurance providers, the deductible and the co-insurance are waived, and there is no co-pay for students receiving care at the health center.

However, enrollment in the plan remains low.

“Technically, there is no out-of-pocket for the student to get primary health care if they come to the Student Health Center,” said David Porras, business manager at the health center.

Porras also said the center averages an estimated 6,000 visits annually from mostly uninsured students with health issues ranging from sore throats to chest pains.

“Eighty percent of the student population that comes here does not have any type of insurance,” Porras said. “They’re thinking about their academic issues and health care is way in the back.”

He said that students also have different priorities when managing the remainder of their financial aid money.

Alex Rascon, senior forensic science major, works part-time at the Student Health Center and is also uninsured.

“I’ve been working here as a part-timer for about three years, but then again you’ve got books to worry about. You’ve got transportation to worry about.  You’ve got food to worry about,” Rascon said. “Sadly, it is an expensive life for a college student.”

Sonia Rhein, senior art major, receives coverage through Tricare, a military insurance provider. She was not aware of the UT System plan.

“I didn’t even know there was something like that,” she said.

Porras said he not only informs students at UTEP about the importance of health insurance, but also speaks to students about the UT System plan.

“I go to every new student orientation. I go to every health science class that they have. I go to different colleges and talk to the students about health care in general, and the importance of having medical insurance and what’s available to them,” Porras said.

He said that the underwriters of the UT System plan, Blue Cross/Blue Shield, send out notices to students.

The only UTEP students automatically enrolled in the UT System plan are those registered in various programs offered by the College of Health Sciences. It is a requirement when training or doing internships at medical facilities, unless proof of comparable coverage is made known.

Porras said that uninsured students should give higher priority to their health and realize that they are not indestructible. 

“What I tell students is that you have to make a determination on how much health insurance you need,” Porras said.

Ben Woolridge may be reached at [email protected]

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