New student health care model includes fee, broadens access

To facilitate student access to quality health care, Cornell is implementing a new funding model for health services beginning next fall, President David J. Skorton announced Feb. 5. The funding model includes a $350 student health fee for those not enrolled in the Cornell Student Health Insurance Plan (SHIP).

Health fee information
More information about the health fee and Cornell's commitment to student health and well-being is available at the Caring Community website.

“Quality medical, mental health, education and prevention services play a critical role in student well-being and, therefore, success. Yet funding these services – and creating access to them for all students – has been a growing fiscal challenge, and a personal concern of mine,” said Skorton. “Although introducing a new fee is never desirable, moving to a model that includes a health fee – a standard in college health nationwide – will make student costs more predictable and encourage them to seek the care they need.”

While Gannett has seen a steady increase in visits by students enrolled in SHIP, officials say students not enrolled in SHIP too often defer seeking care due to financial concerns. The new funding model was developed largely to make access to on-campus care affordable and equitable for all.

Dr. Janet Corson-Rikert, associate vice president for campus health and director of Gannett Health Services, said that non-SHIP students often have plans with high deductibles, or with health care networks that work well for them in their hometowns but provide poor coverage in Ithaca. They can delay routine care for visits home, but many student health needs can’t – or shouldn’t – wait.

“The health fee will allow students with private insurance to access many Gannett services without incurring unanticipated charges,” she said.

According to Joel Malina, vice president for university relations, “The new model will provide all students – not just those on the SHIP – with prepaid access to campus services, and allow the university to maintain those services as its enrollment changes.” SHIP premiums also may increase in academic year 2015-16 to help address rising health care costs, he added.

“It is important that we implement a sustainable health services model across the board,” said Susan Murphy, vice president for student and academic services. “The university is committed to providing access to high-quality, timely health services for all our students and to position Gannett better to meet current and emerging student needs and respond to future public health challenges.”

In the coming weeks, Murphy will hold a series of meetings on campus to answer questions about the funding model. More information can be found at the Caring Community website.

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Joe Schwartz