- Why do I need medical insurance?
- Medical insurance can protect you from serious debt if you are faced with a significant medical illness. Most insurance plans also have wellness benefits which can make preventive care more affordable for you.
- Currently the University requires all international students and faculty to have medical insurance, and medical insurance for domestic students is highly recommended.
- Beginning in 2014, all US citizens and legal residents are required by law to have medical insurance (as mandated by the Affordable Care Act) or face fines and/or penalties.
- What is the Affordable Care Act and how might it affect my insurance coverage?
- The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), commonly called Obamacare or the Affordable Care Act (ACA), is a United States federal statute signed into law by President Barack Obama on March 23, 2010.
- The ACA aims to increase the quality and affordability of health insurance, and reduce both the uninsured rate (through expanded public and private insurance coverage) and the costs of health care for individuals and the government. It provides a number of mechanisms to increase coverage and affordability. The law also requires insurance companies to cover all applicants within new minimum standards and offer the same rates regardless of pre-existing conditions or sex (began in January 2014).
- Because of these requirements, insurance companies cannot refuse to provide coverage for people who are at high risk for serious illness or charge them more for premiums than they charge those who are at low risk. This increases the number of people who can get health insurance, but may increase the cost of premiums for people who are well.
- If you were unable to get medical insurance prior to this legislation because you were considered too high risk, the legislation should enable you to get more affordable insurance coverage, but if you have no chronic medical conditions, you may see an increase in your insurance premiums.
- I don’t currently have medical insurance. What are the insurance options available to me?
You may be eligible for one of the following:
- Your parents' insurance - If you are less than 26 years old you may pay an additional premium to be added to your parents’ insurance plan.
- Your employer/group insurance - If you are working and it is part of your employer's benefits package, a plan may be available for purchase through your employer. Discuss your options with your employer.
- Medicaid - If you meet the eligibility requirements you may qualify for Louisiana Medicaid. To determine this, refer to the Louisiana Medicaid website.
- For additional information about other insurance options which might be available for you, visit the Louisiana Health Insurance Marketplace at https://www.healthcare.gov/ .
- UL Lafayette has secured vendors that offer ACA compliant Sickness and Accident Policies for both domestic and international students. These are major medical insurance plans with prescription drug coverage, and may be more affordable than other private insurance plans.
- Are there advantages to buying one of the student insurance policies versus buying my own private insurance policy? Are there disadvantages?
The University has negotiated group insurance rates, which could mean that your premium for student insurance will be lower than the premium you would have to pay to purchase individual private medical insurance.
- To determine if this is the case, divide the amount of your student insurance premium by the number of months in the covered period to get your monthly rate and compare it to the monthly rate offered by the private insurance you are considering.
- You should also compare the benefits offered before making your decision.
- If you plan to use Student Health Services (SHS) for convenient on-campus medical care, you should take into account that SHS is a preferred provider for the student insurance plans. If you purchase student insurance, you will have no deductible for services billed from SHS (the deductible is the amount of money you must pay out of pocket before the insurance will pay a claim), whereas if you purchase private insurance you will be required to pay for services up to the amount of your deductible.
The current student insurance vendors do not offer a payment plan for your premium, so although the total amount you pay per semester may be less than what you’d pay for another insurance, you will be required to pay the entire amount at the beginning of each semester.
- This can be done via credit card, which effectively sets up a payment plan if your budget doesn’t allow payment of the entire amount up front.
- Doing payments this way may negate your savings if your credit card’s interest rate is too high.
- If you are enrolled in Fall of this year and do not choose to purchase the student insurance in the fall semester, you will not have the option to purchase it again until Fall of the following year. A private insurance plan can be purchased at any time.
- If you purchase insurance and then choose to see a medical provider who is not a preferred provider of that insurance, you will pay more for your medical care. If you have a primary care provider whom you see regularly, you should make certain that he or she is a preferred provider for the student insurance before you purchase it.
- What is a preferred provider?
- Insurance companies often make contracts with doctors, outpatient medical facilities and hospitals to provide services to the people insured by their company for set fees. These fees are generally lower than the fees charged to the insured by doctors and facilities which have not signed such contracts.
- The insurance company will usually also pay a higher percentage of the amounts billed to them by these “preferred providers”, leaving you with less out of pocket expense.
- It makes sense, then, for you to check with your insurance company (via the telephone number or the website usually printed on the back of your insurance card) to find out who their preferred providers are, and to make an effort whenever possible to seek medical care from a preferred provider.
- There are times, however, when you can’t get an appointment with a preferred provider, the preferred provider’s office isn’t convenient to get to, or there are no preferred providers in your area. Many insurance companies also expect you to pay a deductible amount before they will pay anything, even if you are seeing a preferred provider.
- In these cases, finding a provider who is available, conveniently located, and will charge you the lowest fees is very important. At UL Lafayette Student Health Services we pride ourselves on providing cost-sensitive, convenient medical care to all of our patients.
- What is a deductible? How can I find out about mine?
- Your deductible is the amount that your insurance company requires you to pay out of pocket for medical services before it will start paying claims. Usually you must “satisfy” your deductible (that is, spend that amount of money) before your insurance will pay a claim, but some providers have contracts with insurance companies which allow them to waive that requirement.
- For example, if you have purchased one of UL Lafayette’s Sickness and Accident policies (either the international or domestic policy), your deductible is waived for services provided at Student Health Services.
- To determine whether or not you have a deductible and how much you will have to pay before your insurance will pay a claim, check the back of your insurance card for a contact number (or a website). Call and ask (or log on and search) for a schedule of benefits for that insurance plan. It should include information about deductible amounts.
- How do I find out what my insurance plan will cover?
- Your insurance schedule of benefits (see above) should include information about the types of things your insurance will and will not pay for and give you an idea about what percentage of your medical bills you may be responsible to pay out of pocket. This will vary from plan to plan.
- Make sure that you review your plan’s list of exclusions (the list of things that your insurance doesn’t cover) and be familiar with your plan’s policy on pre-existing conditions. The ACA mandate requiring your insurance company to cover medical conditions diagnosed before you were insured by them went into effect January of 2014.
- If you receive insurance documents or brochures, read them carefully. Explore your insurance company’s website. The more you know, the better prepared you will be in the event of an illness. When in doubt, you can always call your insurance company and ask if a specific service or treatment is covered (if possible, before you have it done to avoid unexpected expenses).
- What if I can’t afford medical insurance?
- First, look at your budget to see if there are some extra expenses you can cut to increase your available funds. Determine how much you can afford to spend on insurance. Please note if you file income taxes, the federal government will deduct a penalty from your refund check if you remain uninsured.
- Check with your parents if you are younger than 26 years of age to see if they can help by adding you to their insurance plan.
- Ask your employer if insurance is available through your work and how much it would cost. (Make sure you review the policies available to you and compare coverage before making your purchase.)
- If these are not options for you, the next place to look is the Louisiana Medicaid website to see if you are eligible for Medicaid.
- If you are not eligible for Medicaid, check out https://www.healthcare.gov/ for your Healthcare Marketplace options. Enrollment begins October 1st, and coverage starts in January.
If you choose an insurance plan that does not go into effect until January or that has a large deductible, there are several local clinics that provide services for free or at substantial discounts to people who have no insurance or inadequate insurance . These include:
- Lafayette Parish Health Unit: (337) 262-5616 – Offers family planning services and STD testing/treatment for minimal fees.
- University Hospital and Clinics (previously University Medical Center): (337) 261-6000 - You must be uninsured and fulfill low income requirements to be seen at no charge. You may be eligible to be seen at reduced rates depending on your insurance status and income. Bring proof of income.
Lafayette Community Health Clinic:
- You must be employed and uninsured to be seen.
- You must have an appointment to be seen by a doctor or dentist at the clinic. The appointment line is only answered on Tuesday and Thursday mornings between 10:00am – 12:00pm for that evening’s clinic.
- The phone number for the appointment line is (337) 207-7707.
- St. Bernadette’s Clinic: (337) 267-1437 – This clinic is operated by the Catholic diocese and is intended for patients that are poor, indigent, unemployed, and uninsured.
- Surrey Street Community Health Center : (337) 456-6768 – Offers medical, dental, and mental health services at substantial discounts for self-pay patients. Medicaid and most insurances are also accepted.
- Acadiana Gay Men’s Wellness Center: (337) 233-2437 – Offers STD testing, blood pressure screening, behavioral health screening and counseling, and risk management screening to gay and bisexual men free of charge.
- I am a returning domestic student, and I have noticed that the “limited” sickness and accident insurance policy that was previously included with my tuition and fees is no longer available. Why is that?
- The University’s contracted insurance carrier is unable to offer the previous “limited” sickness and accident policy because it does not meet ACA guidelines. The new sickness and accident policy does meet the new guidelines, and provides much better coverage than the previously offered plan. For this reason, its premiums are substantially larger.
- Rather than mandating broader student insurance coverage for everyone (and raising costs for everyone), the University administration has decided to allow you to make the choice about where you will purchase your major sickness and accident medical insurance.
- An accident only policy (a type of policy which is not required to follow ACA guidelines) is now included with your tuition and fees if you are a domestic student carrying sufficient hours.
An excellent online resource for basic insurance information for college students can be found here.
If you have further questions about any UL Lafayette Student Insurance policy, please consult the appropriate website for your policy or call 482-5919. Our billing staff will be happy to assist you.
Please contact your insurance company for questions specifically related to your private insurance policy.