Students urged to make fuller use of health insurance

by | Apr 13, 2017 | IGNITE, Life

Alan Sebastian
News Reporter

You’ve paid your tuition fees and run out of your savings. And if you’re down with a flu or have a terrible toothache that needs to be looked at, you usually avoid the doctor when you don’t have to.

That’s why the end of the semester is when many students realize they still have insurance leeway to receive further care.

“We get a lot of students who come in for a basic teeth-cleaning so that their insurance is used. This generally happens at the end of the semester when students realize they haven’t used their insurance,” says Shana Wilkins, owner of Dental Hygiene Clinic at Humber Lakeshore campus.

The fine print on the offer letter confirms student fees include health insurance, meaning it is paid as part of tuition. But this insurance applies only to full-time students, who pay a premium of $500, kept aside from tuition automatically as part of the insurance package with no option to opt out.

There are several variations to the scheme students can choose from depending on certain factors such as their course of study, the number of years to complete their program, what kind of services they want in the insurance package.

“We have devised an awareness campaign that will be advertised to students during specific months of the year in order to further ensure that students are educated and reminded of their entitlements at Humber College,” said Ahmed Tahir, President of IGNITE.

These campaigns are advertised around the months when the calendar year either comes to a close or during a time when most of the students make use of their insurance, he adds. Humber also puts up notices informing students where to go to learn more about their benefits.

“We have thousands of students carrying thousands of dollars on their student loan for years to come for the services they didn’t know were available to them and therefore did not use them,” said Wilkins of the dental clinic.

Humber holds a seminar during Orientation Week to educate students about their benefits, usually diverting them to the Humber healthcare websites for further assistance.

Some international students, however, say they experience an overload of information at this time,  combined with apartment hunting and the many other challenges faced by those who have just landed in a new country.

If students do not take advantage of their benefits within the allotted calendar year, the money goes to the insurance companies. The insurance cannot be transferred nor can it be refunded to in case a student decides not to use it. That’s part of the reason Wilkins says she pays two of her employees, who are Humber students, to educate other students of their benefits.