Wednesday, November 16, 2005
New fund to support uninsured students
By Dawn Pauli, OU Writer
Each winter Alice Horning, director of rhetoric and professor of rhetoric and linguistics, can count on a handful of students coming to class sick. Unfortunately, many of these students don’t have health insurance or the means to pay for a doctor visit and prescription.
Often, the students miss weeks of school, sometimes dropping classes because they get so far behind in their work.
When Horning discovered there wasn’t a safety net in place to help uninsured students, she set out to create an emergency fund.
With assistance from Graham Health Center and the Division of Student Affairs, Horning initiated the Health Emergency Gift Fund. Donations can be made to the fund during the All-University Fund Drive (AUFD) currently under way.
Horning is establishing the fund with the first donation.
“There’s a big health care crisis in the United States and we can’t do anything about that, but we can do something about this little health care crisis here at Oakland. We should be looking out for students,” Horning said. “The idea is to get students with acute problems seen and cared for at the health center, so they can get back to class.”
The fund will be distributed through the Office of Student Affairs, where Nancy Schmitz, assistant vice president of student affairs, is a proponent of the fund.
“We know there is a chunk of our student population without insurance who have reached the maximum age on their parents’ insurance, or they’re young adults who work full time without benefits,” Schmitz said.
Although Graham Health Center offers reduced rates, a typical office visit is $30 and another $30 for medication. For a student working part time, a doctor’s visit could cost nearly a week’s paycheck.
“Now, through the fund, students will be asked to pay a much smaller amount, $10 for an office visit and $5 for medication,” Schmitz said.
The fund will cover the difference in the fees charged by Graham Health Center.
“This really is all about the students,” Schmitz said. “Through the AUFD, this is a way to support the institution and your dollars will go directly back to students.”
Joanne Talarek, director of Graham Health Center, estimates 6 percent of the Oakland student population doesn’t have health insurance.
The most common ailments she treats during the winter months are upper respiratory diseases, including sinus infections, bronchitis, flu, mononucleosis and strep throat.
“Students can’t learn and be successful if they’re ill, so there’s an opportunity here to be as healthy as possible, so they can succeed,” Talarek said. “You can’t do your best when you have a fever.”
Horning expects students who receive assistance from the Emergency Health Care Fund will pay it back when they can.
“I hope they remember there was a time when their success in a semester hinged on getting healthy and that the Oakland University community helped them through,” she said.
Students who need assistance from the Health Emergency Fund should contact the Division of Student Affairs at (248) 370-4200 for more information.