Campus, News

Student Health Services provides students with affordable health care

Raya Torres was living in the Philippines when she got accepted into Long Beach State and was stressed about meeting the vaccination requirements, as not all the vaccinations she needed were available overseas.

But during an impromptu visit to campus, Torres was able to be seen the same day and get her first COVID vaccination, a free service offered by the Student Health Services.

“They really went out of their way to accommodate me,” Torres, a second-year journalism major, said. “Over the past year, when I sent emails to them to ask questions, I can always count on receiving a reply within the first 24 hours. I was very appreciative of how they were very quick to answer my questions.”

CSULB’s Student Health Services, a “nationally accredited clinic,” offers students free or low-cost health services with over 60 employees who work to serve student’s health and wellness needs, Health Educator Allison Borwell told the Daily 49er.

Torres’ second vaccination is scheduled for next month but says she’s “very interested in exploring” the services that Student Health Services offers.

Beyond vaccinations, SHS provides students with free tests for those that can be done in-house—whether it be a pregnancy test or a strep throat culture—Borwell said. X-rays and tuberculosis testing are also offered through Student Health Services.

Students at CSULB pay a $75 Student Health Fee through their tuition that grants them access to the Student Health Services. Health insurance isn’t required and there’s no copay. It is always free to see a medical provider, though students have to pay a fee for certain labs, pharmacies, and immunization clinics, according to their website.

If the test has to be sent off-campus, there is a low cost that students will have to pay, which varies depending on how much the university is charged.

Because SHS is a non-profit, students will only have to pay exactly as much as the university is charged.

Whether it be reproductive health, sports medicine, or gender-affirming care, the SHS is equipped with affordable resources for students to take advantage of, Heidi Girling, coordinator of the office of wellness and health, said.

“All your visits are always free,” Girling said. “It’s the lab tests and the pharmaceuticals and [vaccinations] that cost money.”

Insurance is not accepted at Student Health Services, as all 23 CSU campuses have chosen to not bill health insurance. The free services are only available to all enrolled students, Girling said.

However, Girling recommends students have health insurance in case something happens—like a broken bone or a breast lump that requires a specialist—and students have to be seen off-site.

If a student needed surgery, the clinic would send them to a hospital as there are limits to the clinic’s services, which are only accessible Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Students with insurance can benefit from Student Health Services in situations where a student has to pay out-of-pocket for STI testing. Testing costs around $200 to $250 on average, but Student Health Services testing costs only $60, Girling said.

SHS also houses a pharmacy that sells about 100 different products, Girling said, ranging from pharmaceutical drugs to sunscreen to lubricants at low prices for students, faculty, and staff.

Though students would have to pay for antibiotics if needed, the entire cost would amount to around $4, Borwell said.

“We don’t make money in our clinic,” Girling said. “Exactly what you pay is exactly what we pay. We’ve been able to negotiate really good prices.”

Students can also apply for Family PACT, a California program that provides free reproductive health care for low-income men and women, Borwell said.

Most students qualify for the program, which offers students free STI testing, birth control and condoms. It only takes a ten-minute stop in the clinic to sign up.

Beyond offering resources to support student’s physical health, SHS also provides students with mental health aid as well.

Students can receive counseling for nutrition, sexual assault, tobacco cessation or participate in workshops on stress management and sexual health.

The goal of SHS, Girling said, is to use an “overall comprehensive wellness approach” to help support students’ education. Girling notes that “a healthy student is a productive student.”

“If we take care of you well, and you have access to health care that’s affordable, confidential and individualized, you’re going to be a better student in the end,” Girling said.

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