Western Unlikely to Face Changes with Proposed Health Bill

Institutional News

A House bill with the potential to drastically change how state universities within Missouri operate their student health services will make its way through committee hearings this month, but it seems as though Missouri Western will be left unaffected.

House Bill 2096, authored by Rep. Jason Chipman, R-Steelville, mandates that state universities will not be allowed to charge students with a health service fee if the student has proof of insurance. For many schools, there would need to be major reconfiguration of their budgets in order to compensate for loss of revenue. However, Missouri Western will be faced with little to no change.

Pam Esely is in charge of Esry Health Center’s operating budget, and she feels there is little reason to worry about this bill. Western does not charge students with a health service fee upon registration like other schools, but rather charges each individual student for their own usage of the center. Currently, when one visits Esry a $25 charge is billed to the individual’s account; no other students are responsible for paying this service.

For this reason, Rep. Chipman authored the bill after his experience attending the University of Missouri-Rolla. Chipman was enrolled in only six credit hours at the time, but still was required to pay the various campus fees, such as the health services fee. Chipman, a veteran, living off campus with a family and a full-time job, had full insurance coverage and never once used the on-campus health facility.

“It didn’t make sense for me to go to the campus center when I had my own doctor covered through my insurance plan. So I asked myself, ‘Why should I pay for a service I’m not ever going to use?’ Other students were benefitting at my expense,” said Chipman.

Chipman believes college students across Missouri are facing this same issue as he did. He argues that if students are already paying fees for insurance coverage, then they shouldn’t be charged additional fees that are not benefitting them.

According to Esely, Esry is already in the process of moving toward accepting health insurance from students. When a student visits the center, their insurance provider would be billed for the service rather than the student. Students without insurance would be self-pay, just like at any doctor’s office.

Whether or not the $25 service fee would be covered by insurance depends upon the provider. A representative for Coventry Health Care, a prominent health insurance provider in the Midwest, said that most insurance companies would probably view the $25 charge as a typical co-pay fee. If this is the case, then students would still be responsible for the service charge.

“I applaud Missouri Western for taking this stance on having students pay for the service they receive. That’s how the world works,” said Chipman.

Chipman hopes that through his bill other Missouri universities will adopt a method like what Western enforces, thus creating a fairer system for students and their money.