After a soft rollout in the summer, the Student Health and Wellness Center (SHWC) expects to fully implement acceptance of commercial health insurance plans in fall 2019. As of now, the SHWC files claims for the university-endorsed student insurance policy but does not file claims for commercial health insurance policies/carriers.
Once this is implemented, students with commercial health insurance will no longer have to pay the full cost of their visit and seek reimbursement by getting an itemized receipt to send to their insurance company. Instead, the SHWC will file claims for their visit directly and students may only have to pay a copay, depending on their insurance.
“In the past we have not taken insurance but we have realized that one, this is a service that parents and students would like us to do,” Herschel Voorhees, the executive director of the SHWC said. “And two, it is also additional revenue for us.”
SHWC is getting credentialed
As of now, the SHWC is in the process of becoming credentialed to file commercial health insurance, which means all the medical providers at the SHWC have to have all their credentials to show to the various insurance companies.
“All our medical providers have to have all their credentials,” Voorhees said. “That is, what medical school that you go to, what certifications do you have, license number, DEA number, all the things that identify me as being a doctor.”
Voorhees said they send all the credential information to a database that an insurance company then looks at and draws up a contract, which Voorhees said is standard.
“That process takes time,” Voorhees said. “When we say we’re becoming credentialed with different insurance companies, [it] means we’re looking at insurance companies like Blue Cross Blue Shield, United [and] Aetna.”
Voorhees said they are trying to hit the major insurance companies that a majority of students have.
“Once you have all your providers, that is doctors, nurse practitioners, physician’s assistants and everybody credentialed and the contracts signed, then at that point, you can start filing insurance,” Voorhees said, noting that they are working with UNT Legal when it comes to the contracts.
Expectation after implementation
Voorhees said once students realize the SHWC takes their insurance, they will utilize the center and its services.
“Our thought is being [an] on campus location, that’s where the students are, that would be more appealing for them to come here,” he said. “Especially those who felt like they couldn’t use us because there’s still that notion out there that ‘oh you don’t take my insurance, therefore I’m not going to go see you guys.’”
Marketing-wise, Voorhees said they are currently working on various marketing strategies.
“We have different strategies, whether it’s going to be not only on our website, the usual yard signs that we have thousands of on campus and as well as with different organizations,” Voorhees said.
Shane Boettiger, a medical laboratory science junior, also said it was a good idea that the SHWC will be able to accept commercial health insurance.
“It would allow me to use the health insurance I already have,” Boettiger said.
Business analytics senior Kara Smantz said she “absolutely” thinks the SHWC being able to accept commercial health insurance is a good idea.
“I, as a freshman here, didn’t have a car, so I entirely relied on the health center,” Smantz said. “But I couldn’t use it as much as I’d liked to because they couldn’t bill my commercial health insurance and I didn’t want to pay extra for health insurance when I already had it.”
SHWC Pharmacy now open to faculty and staff
While insurance changes are coming to the SHWC, the pharmacy is also updating who can use its services and what insurance is accepted there.
“It’s something we’ve not advertised but will be advertising soon, [but] we’ve opened our pharmacy services to faculty and staff,” Voorhees said.
Voorhees said they’ve had faculty and staff approach them and ask why they cannot get their prescriptions filled there.
“We’ve not done so but we’ve been given the go ahead to do that,” he said. “And we’ll see how much of a difference that makes with our pharmacy business at this point.”
As for the pharmacy with regard to commercial health insurance, Voorhees said it has accepted commercial health since before he worked for the SHWC.
“Only in the last year or two have we started expanding out to other plans to increase our volume at the pharmacy,” Voorhees said.
Featured Image: Executive Director Herschel Voorhees discusses Student Health and Wellness Center’s stance on commercial insurance plans. Image by: Vi Tran.