New weekend Health Center hours implemented
Some of the proposed changes outlined in the review of Brandeis' health services, a report which was released this past October, are coming to fruition. The Golding Health Center's regular weekend hours have already been eliminated, and University administration is now looking into the possible implementation of a third-party insurance billing system.
The review of health services on campus, initially reported in a Nov. 5 article in the Justice, was conducted over the summer by Hodgkins-Beckley Consulting, LLC.
Regarding weekend office hours for the Health Center, Assistant Vice President for Health and Wellness and Director of Athletics Sheryl Sousa '90 wrote in an email to the Justice that "student traffic was low and we seemed to be one of the few schools in the area with weekend hours."
However, wrote Sousa, "a medical provider is on call for all acute care concerns that can't wait until the Health Center is open." Students can call a telephone number, which is posted on the Health Center's website, for immediate care.
The potential for Brandeis to use a third-party insurance billing system was also addressed in the Hodgkins-Beckley report.
"In the model, which you can find in great detail in the report, there is (sic) NO increased cost for visits passed along to students," wrote Sousa. "The requirements under [the Affordable Care Act] for co-payment are covered by students' health fees, which are already part of the student fees you pay."
Sousa wrote that University officials were still in the process of discussing options with "our partner" for implementing such a system, while preserving the privacy of students. "I'm very optimistic that this model may offer some welcome advantages for Brandeis," she added. Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center currently operates the Brandeis Health Center.
The Health Center is currently funded by a flat health fee paid each semester by all undergraduates, included in the lump sum "mandatory undergraduate fee" charged by the University.
In addition to that fee, the Hodgkins-Beckley report recommends that the Health Center and Psychological Counseling Center begin to bill students' insurance plans for services. The Health Center fee would work in tandem with students' insurance to cover charges not reimbursed by an insurance plan.
While Sousa emphasized in her email to the Justice that students' out-of-pocket costs-or their costs per visit-would not increase, the report suggests that premiums on the Student Health Insurance Program provided by the University could increase by $85, which is about six percent of the $1,389 cost of 2013 to 2014 academic year coverage. Sousa did not respond to requests for the number of students enrolled in SHIP.
Dr. Debra Poaster, medical director of the Health Center, did not respond to requests for comment.
Student Union Vice President Charlotte Franco '15 wrote in an email to the Justice that neither the Student Union nor the student body had been consulted about the changes. "We are concerned with the fact that the Health Center is not open on the weekends anymore," she wrote.
-Sara Dejene contributed reporting