Major changes made to student health care policy

by Joshua KullaStaff Writer

Simpson students returned this year to find significant changes in the college’s health care services.

The changes were announced in an Aug. 24 e-mail to the student body, stating that Simpson College will no longer provide insurance coverage for students’ visits to off-campus medical facilities.

“Over the last several years I’ve had increasing conversations with the medical clinics that have been involved with the program that Simpson had in place, and there was increasing dissatisfaction with that program,” Jim Thorius, vice president of student development and dean of students, said. “The clinics felt like they weren’t recovering their costs at a rate that they felt was adequate.”

Thorius went on to say that approximately 97 percent of the student body is covered by personal or family insurance policies, and that in those cases Simpson’s insurance coverage was resulting in double-coverage for clinic visits.

Many students who have insurance are not worried about the change in the policy.

“Am I adversely affected by the new policy? Not really,” sophomore Rachel Gull said. “However, it does seem like some pretty schmucky changes for those students who suddenly have to pay uber-expensive doctor’s fees.”

For the students who don’t have insurance, the change came as a surprise and could cause some added stress if they become ill.

“I’m in a very tough spot,” sophomore Stevie Trevathan said. “If I get sick, I have nothing to fall back on.”

For uninsured students, the expansion of Simpson’s health services may provide some solace. Registered Nurse Rita Audlehelm, Simpson’s recently-hired director of health services, will now be on hand to provide additional medical attention.

“We decided that trying to increase our nursing coverage on campus from what was a 15-20 hour-a-week coverage up to where we’re at this year, which is close to a 40 hour-a-week coverage.” Thorius said.

Thorius also said in addition to increasing on-campus nursing coverage, more resources would be put into expanding Simpson’s mental health services.

Audlehelm said that it was her department’s goal to help students manage their health care more efficiently and effectively.

“We’re very excited about expanding Health Services,” Audlehelm said. “We’re here to offer students help in deciding when they need to go to a doctor, as well as health teaching and information that can help students maneuver today’s health system, which is more challenging than ever.”