- How do I get health care at the Student Health Center?
- Can I get a note from the Student Health Center if I miss a class or an exam because of illness?
- Can I use a credit card to pay my bill at the Student Health Center?
- Should I buy prescription medication at Student Health (if available) or go to a local pharmacy?
- Why do some patients pay for lab work at the time of the visit and others receive a bill later?
How do I get health care at the Student Health Center?
Students are encouraged to call Student Health at 322-2427 to schedule an appointment. Appointments allow for an established relationship with a provider and are the most time efficient (e.g., less wait time). In the case of an urgent medical problem, acute care services are provided on a “first come, first served basis.”
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Can I get a note from the Student Health Center if I miss a class or an exam because of illness?
The Student Health Center has a long-standing policy of not providing written excuses for missed classes or missed academic obligations due to routine self-limited illnesses or injuries. Circumstances involving long term illnesses, severe medical conditions or hospitalizations are evaluated on an individual basis. Click here for more information
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Should I buy prescription medication at Student Health (if available) or go to a local pharmacy?
It depends on your health insurance. Many patients have prescription benefits with their health insurance plan which may be accepted at a local pharmacy. This means that if you go to a local pharmacy you may purchase medication with a copay amount that is determined by the individual plan – this varies, depending on the specific medication and the plan coverage. Gallagher Koster insurance charges $10 for a generic, $25 for a brand name medication and $40 for a brand name medication with a generic equivalent with a maximum prescription limit of $100,000 per policy year.
The Student Health Center dispensary is stocked with many commonly prescribed medications. We typically sell these medications at prices that are often lower than local pharmacies. If we offer the medication prescribed at a comparable or lower price than your insurance copay then it makes sense to buy the medication at the Student Health Center, rather than making a trip to the pharmacy. However if your copay is quite low and we cannot compete with that price then it may make sense to purchase your prescription medication with your insurance at a local pharmacy.
Medication availability and costs may be discussed with your Student Health Center provider.
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Why do some patients pay for lab work at the time of the visit and others receive a bill later?
When the decision is made to order lab work, then a decision also needs to be made how to handle the financial charges. There are some tests that are done in the Student Health Center lab such as urinalysis, rapid strep, mono and pregnancy tests. There is a small fee for these tests and all students must pay for them at the time of check-out.
Other laboratory testing is sent to the Vanderbilt Medical Center laboratories and the results are forwarded to us. There are two ways to handle payment for such tests:
1. The patient can pay Student Health Center at the time of check out and we reimburse the medical center. This is called “Client Billing” whereby the Student Health Center is the “client” of the medical center. The rates for these tests are significantly lower than the “regular” rates since we have eliminated the “middle man” – the insurance companies. Once the decision is made to file with insurance and the insurance company is billed that decision cannot be changed. In other words, if the patient chooses to file lab work charges with their insurance and the insurance company rejects the claim, the student is then liable for the charges. He/she will owe the full “regular” charge to the medical center and cannot then pay “Client Bill” charges.
It may make sense to take the “Client Bill” route under some circumstances such as:
Privacy – if the tests are billed through insurance, then parents will usually receive a report of the tests ordered from their insurance company or the medical center.
High deductible: Healthy patients who rarely use their health insurance may not meet their deductible if it is high. So for an acute illness such as mononucleosis where lab tests may be ordered, it makes sense to bypass the insurance company and pay the lower charges since those costs will be out of pocket anyway.
Out of Network Insurance: some patients may have a good insurance plan that works well at home but may be very restrictive or out of network in Nashville. If this is the case, then Client Billing may make the most sense. It is important to check with your insurance company about out of network coverage if possible.
Non-Covered Tests: Some insurance companies will not pay for certain screening tests without a “diagnosis” attached to them. So, if a healthy patient with such insurance wants a cholesterol test, blood typing or sexually transmitted disease screening those tests may not be covered and it may make sense to bypass the insurance company completely.
Great Discrepancy between Client Bill prices and Medical Center Charges: In some cases, there is a great discrepancy between the two charges, so that even after filing with an insurance company, the patient’s share is greater than the bill would have been by paying up front.
2. For tests associated with a “diagnosis” and in patients with insurance companies that have low deductibles and reasonable co-pays on such tests, it may make sense to have the medical center file your lab charges with your insurance company. In that case, you would not pay at the time of check-out at the Student Health Center. You would receive an EOB (Explanation of Benefits) later from the insurance company and would be billed later by the Medical Center for any remaining charges after your insurance company had paid their share. The complexities involved in making the decision of “Client Bill” (pay up front) versus “Insurance Bill” are sometimes difficult for patients to sort out on their own. Your healthcare provider can help you make the right financial decision at the time that lab work is ordered if you are aware of your specific insurance information and coverage.
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