Medications And Contraceptives
Health care will cost a lot after you leave Barnard. Be sure you have an adequate supply of any chronic medications that you take before you leave Barnard. If you are taking hormonal contraceptives, make an appointment with the Health Service to pick up a prescription prior to graduation.
Student Health Services will keep your medical records for seven years, after which they will be destroyed. We will release information only when you request it, and your written signature is required. A $10 fee is charged for providing medical records. We will mail them to you or you may pick them up from the Health Service.
You will need records of your immunizations if you are planning to attend graduate school. Please come to the Health Service to pick yours up! Be careful to safeguard these records when you receive them. After graduation there is a $5 charge for providing immunization records, with a $5 surcharge for faxing. They may of course also be mailed, or you may pick them up.
Make sure you’re covered!! Even a minor accident, illness, or emergency room visit can turn into a financial nightmare if you are uninsured. An appendectomy or broken arm can easily cost you several thousand dollars. At the very least, you should consider excess or hospitalization insurance. [Major medical insurance, which covers outpatient costs, doctor's fees in the hospital, etc. can be a separate option.] If you have no insurance, you may be refused treatment by the doctor or hospital of your choice. Here are some tips for thinking about, and obtaining, medical insurance.
- Check with your family about whether you will continue to be covered on their policy after graduation. Coverage varies enormously, so you must determine this individually.
- Group insurance is almost always cheaper than individual plans. Barnard graduates are eligible to join the Columbia Alumni Association, which offers different types of insurance: catastrophic major medical, term life, and long-term disability. Please note that basic medical and regular major medical insurance are not offered, but recommendations can be made. For more information, contact the Columbia Alumni Association at 212-870-2535. You may also find that some other group of which you are or may become a member offers medical insurance as well. One example is NAFE (National Association of Female Executives).
- Be aware that a new insurance plan may refuse to cover "pre-existing conditions", often defined as any illness or condition for which you have visited a doctor during the past year. Pre-existing conditions are most likely to be invoked when there is a gap, even a day, in your current insurance and a new plan.
- Information released to an insurance company, including a diagnosis provided for reimbursement, is not bound by the same standards of confidentiality that protect your medical records in a hospital or doctor's office.
- Medical insurance is a benefit that is not automatic with employment, particularly part-time work. A minimum of 20 hours/week or more is often necessary to obtain health benefits. You must ask what a particular company's policy is, and what coverage its plan provides. You should be aware that many policies have minimal or no coverage for dental, eye, prescription drugs, or mental health conditions. Ask for specifics!! Most policies also require you to pay some portion of your costs yourself.
- If you need to find an individual plan yourself...consider an insurance agent. In general, the only fee is the commission on your policy. You might also explore an individual policy with your family's company. HMO (Health Maintenance Organization) options are usually much cheaper than plans that pay any doctor you might want to see, but they require you to visit specific doctors who have enrolled with them, and may place other restrictions on where and how you obtain care. You can ask to see a list of the doctors with whom they contract.
- Ask for specifics on “affordable” health care plans with rates that seem too good to be true. These may be networks that have negotiated discounted fees with specific providers (good), but do not actually reimburse you for what you may (not what you expect to) incur. This is certainly an option under certain circumstances, but be sure you understand what you will get for what you pay.
We hope some of these tips may help you stretch your health care dollar. The Student Health Service will be open in the summer for administrative questions. Please call us at 212-854-2091 if we can help answer any of your questions.
We wish you good health and much joy as you leave Barnard.