September 6, 2018

KIM | Insuring Headaches

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I’m no expert when it comes to insurance. Even the word “insurance” draws a heavy question mark in my mind. But recently, it has certainly come to my attention that Cornell’s Student Health Plan has been the source of much difficulty and stress for some students.

Freshmen and transfer students are left with extra expenses and more worries to handle on top of their transition into an entirely new environment. Current students are betrayed with a denied waiver after years of an easy opt-out process, leaving them confused, enraged and in disbelief.

Lucky to have my SHP requirement waived, at least for this time, I was all ears for my friends who had a lot to say about the frustration they were experiencing.

We’re still young and studious, investing all our attention on diversifying and strengthening our education. Our minds are already preoccupied with not only our studies but also the unfathomable digits of student debt – now insurance?

In the end, we become reliant on whatever resources we have on campus, and we take what we can get. We only have so many options nearby. The only hospital, emergency room and diagnostic center in the vicinity is the Cayuga Medical Center, with other hospitals located at a 40-minute-plus driving distance. This limitation is the primary source for the difficulties in providing insurance waivers and for the high cost of the Student Health Plan itself. With a limited resource for quality medical attention, waiving insurance becomes a nit-picky process, the enforcement of which has become drastically more strict this academic year.

This also shines light on another issue: limited student access to a hospital. While students are provided with an on-campus health facility that offers services such as counseling, physical check-ups and vaccinations, the range of available services are certainly limited. With difficult access to a hospital located five miles away, we can only cross our fingers for a safe and healthy student experience.

And with limited medical access comes seemingly unlimited expenses. College in itself is already riddled with tremendous price tags, ranging from the tuition to textbooks and simple groceries, but to pay an enormous fee, over $2,000, from an unfortunate result of what seemed like a simple, innocent little waiver form online is unbelievable. And I thought paying $370 for waiving my insurance plan was outrageous. In the end, there’s no way out, and this is just the beginning.

The unbelievably high cost for healthcare is inevitable. In the United States, we become trapped in a whirlpool, drowning from the horrendous, heart-attack-inducing numbers printed on the hospital bills and insurance payments. If the numbers continuously keep increasing, is there anyone left to serve? Is the value of the healthcare itself even consistent with its extreme monetary value? If the quality of medical attention satisfied its economic worth, the state of healthcare economically and medically wouldn’t have been as atrocious as it is now. And this issue isn’t just present on campus or in the United States. It’s a global issue.

Maybe that’s slightly exaggerated, but that’s how I feel right now as a college student with a sense of uncertainty in the fate of my health. The bottom line: medical care is difficult to access, and we’re charged more for the resource we have low accessibility to. Ultimately, college expenses continuously pile onto our backs, and we’re always looking up towards our hopeful aspirations without looking down at the financial shackles that lock us into place. And while a good portion of the student population depends on parental contributions, the financial burden is still the same. But even past the financial hardship associated with denied insurance waivers, the quality of student health remains questionable.

Alexia Kim is a sophomore in the College of Human Ecology. Who, What, Where, Why? runs every other Friday this semester. She can be reached at alexiakim@cornellsun.com.