Thursday, November 29, 2007

Distance Students: Health Center Fee and Health Insurance Concerns‏

Hello Distance Students,

It's that time during the semester that the Health Center and Health Insurance fees (two different things)become a worry to distance education students in SC, the surrounding states and the cohort students in Maine and Virginia-West Virginia. Please let me put your mind at rest:

The Health Center Fee:

Students must complete the health insurance enrollment/waiver process each semester they are enrolled at USC, excluding Maymester and Summer sessions. In order for a comparable health insurance plan to meet the University sponsored mandatory insurance waiver criteria, the comparable health insurance plan must feature all of the following: _Coverage must be in effect on or before January 6, 2008. _Coverage that allows the insured student to receive outpatient, emergency, specialist and inpatient care, diagnostic testing and procedures, and mental health inpatient and outpatient care, including alcohol and substance abuse treatment, in South Carolina. _Coverage dates must include the semester academic dates, including breaks and holidays. First, and most important, the URL for home page of the Thomson Student Health Center is http://www.sa.sc.edu/shs/tshc/medicine.shtml ; please read the information on their site carefully. Note that graduate students taking 9-11 hours are assessed a $151.00 fee per semester for use of the Thomson Health Center. However, according to the Health Center Administrators, distance students and students in out-of-state cohorts can have this fee waived at the request of their dept. This is done for our distance students each fall; we are in process of making the request for the Maine, and the new Virginia/West Virginia cohorts. I think the word "mandatory" causes the concern. If you did not register for more than 9 hours, you were not assessed the fee at all. Most distance students do not take 9-11 hours, so it would not have applied to most of you. If you are taking 9-11 hours we will submit a waiver request on your behalf. This does not happen overnight, so please be patient. Students are still registering for spring classes which begin Jan. 14th.

The Health Insurance Fee:

All graduate students and international USC students are required to have health insurance. Under this requirement, graduate students enrolled in 9 or more hours, all graduate assistants, and international students must purchase the USC sponsored Student Health Insurance Plan (offered by Pearce and Pearce) or provide documentation of enrollment in a comparable health insurance plan. If you have comparable health insurance coverage and do not wish to obtain the University’s sponsored health insurance plan, you must complete the waiver process on-line by the waiver deadline in order to have the health insurance fee removed from your account. USC graduate and international students can submit their insurance waiver information either by linking through VIP or via the USC Student Health Services (SHS) web site at http://www.sa.sc.edu/shs. Students who are subject to the mandatory health insurance who have not waived out of the University sponsored Student Health Insurance Plan by the deadline will be automatically enrolled in the health insurance plan sponsored by USC and billed by the Bursar Office (also called SFS, USC Student Financial Services) for the health insurance premium. Students must complete the health insurance enrollment/waiver process each semester they are enrolled at USC, excluding Maymester and Summer sessions. You must complete the enrollment/waiver process each Fall Semester and each Spring Semester per academic year. If your health insurance plan is denied through the waiver process, or you miss the deadline and get charged for the insurance plan, you may appeal; however, each appeal is carefully considered and very few exceptions are granted. All health insurance appeal requests must go through the Health Insurance Assistance Office. If you have questions or concerns about the mandatory student health insurance requirement or your individual situation relative to the requirement, please contact the Health Insurance Assistance Office immediately at 803-777-1916 or hiao@gwm.sc.edu. For detailed information and responses to the following often asked questions, go to:https://www.pearceandpearce.com//PearceSite/Schools/SC/usc/ Where do I go if I have questions about USC's mandatory insurance policy or the online enrollment/waiver process?Questions about how to get help if you have a question or problem:Where do I go if I have questions about enrollment, insurance benefits or claims processing? What if I am more comfortable looking up answers to my questions and getting information on line? What if I have questions about or problems with my Pearce and Pearce insurance ID card? How do I find a list of preferred providers under my student health insurance plan? Please follow the directions of the University Offices who deal with these fees and try not listen to your friends who may have had a different situation or problem with the fee assessment and payment. I have tried to put the important bullets in this email, but there is much more information online at the sites given. I hope this information will assist you with the Health Insurance and the Health Center Fees and any issues you may have.

Carol Williams

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