Comparing Health Services to Off-Campus Options

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Immunizations, pregnancy tests, blood work or just medicine for a nasty cold going around are all services that California Lutheran University students can receive at a low cost on campus at Health Services.

But how do these compare to the services available off campus?

Director of Health Services Kerri Lauchner cited X-rays, intrauterine device implants and surgical procedures as services that students must be referred to off campus.

“When we feel that they exceed our area of expertise, then we refer them to someone that they should see,” Lauchner said.

On campus services are available for all full-time students, according to the Health Services webpage. A routine office visit costs $10, while tests and vaccines range from $2 to $118. Lauchner said costs are kept low with subsidies taken from student tuition.

While Health Services does not take insurance, Lauchner said in some cases a “superbill” can be written up and submitted to insurance companies for reimbursement.

“We try to work with students… I don’t want costs to be a barrier, and a lot of times unfortunately in the United States, you know the biggest barrier to medicine is cost,” Lauchner said.

Students are referred off campus most commonly to radiologists or orthopedists when Health Services doesn’t have the equipment or expertise, Lauchner said. Occasionally, students are referred to urgent care when Health Services is busy.

For reproductive services unavailable on campus, including IUDs and abortions, Lauchner said students may be referred to a gynecologist or to Planned Parenthood.

Lauchner said she believes the main reason students might not seek help at Health Services is because they do not know the whole range of services available and may view the clinic as a school nurse.

“Nurses can’t necessarily diagnose and treat, and so they think, ‘oh, it’s probably the same thing there.’ They’re used to going to a doctor’s office to get treated,” Lauchner said.

Wellness Resources office intern Kaitlyn Sloniker said she also thinks students might not seek help on campus for fear of seeing people they know.

“There is the pro of staying on campus because it is, like, right there for your disposal, and generally it is cheaper. However, I think one of the cons of that is, like, you’re going to have to see these people for four years pretty much,” Sloniker said.

Sloniker said off-campus clinics can be more anonymous and offer more services, but considers transportation for students without cars and going through health insurance as downsides.

There are no systems in place to provide transportation for students who are referred off campus, but Health Services does try to help students figure out how to use their insurance, Lauchner said.

For students seeking reproductive health services off campus, Title X funding may help students afford treatment without insurance. Title X provides federal funding to nearly 4,000 health centers across the country, 13 percent of which are Planned Parenthood centers according to the Planned Parenthood website. Patients at these centers submit proof of income to determine the amount they can pay on Title X’s fee scale.

Protesters are a common sight outside the Thousand Oaks Planned Parenthood, which may influence a patient’s choice of where to seek care. One protest in August 2015 drew more than 120 protesters, according to Citizens Journal. Planned Parenthood could not be reached for comment.

Lauchner said that when there are complaints about the care that Health Services provides, they typically have more to do with a physician assistant’s decision, such as choosing to not prescribe antibiotics, than with “moral standpoints.”

One improvement Lauchner said she would like to see at Health Services is having their visiting psychiatrist come more than once a week, a change they are “looking into.”

According to a Spring 2017 survey, 95.3 percent of Health Services patients were overall satisfied with their visit.

“Overall I’m pretty happy and grateful for the resources here,” Junior Senator of Associated Students of California Lutheran University Stephanie Figueroa said.

Figueroa is currently collaborating with Wellness Resources for her senate project “You Matter… Period.” Figueroa said she wanted to use student fees to provide pads and tampons as well as women’s health education since women make up over half of the student population.

“You Matter… Period” will take place Nov. 1 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. in Kingsmen Park.

Ellie Long

Reporter