Authored by HORAN Campus Health Solutions
Campus health is a growing need that is failing to get the attention it deserves. Students returning to campus following the COVID-19 pandemic, face all-new challenges, including food and housing shortages, mental health issues, a lack of social connectivity, and a poor outlook on the future. Campus health care, and more importantly mental health care, should offer the support needed so that students can focus on their studies and academic success.
What grade would your students give your campus health program if a survey were to circulate across your departments, and throughout every classroom? If the prospect of such a query makes you nervous, working with a student health insurance partner can help turn things around.
But first, let’s see how your campus health system stacks up. Don’t worry, the lowest grade is D, so everyone passes.
Ask yourself the following questions to determine if your campus insurance program makes the grade.
Question: Do your students know about their university sponsored student health insurance options?
A study in the Journal of American College Health showed that a majority of students surveyed had low literacy scores when it came to health insurance options. Students surveyed could correctly identify the most common insurance terms like "network of medical providers." But they failed to identify the nuances of health insurance coverage types or the details of their student health insurance plan options. Half of the students surveyed were left confused about their health coverage, and a quarter reported halting or delaying treatment on account of such confusion.
Health insurance literacy is even lower for many international students.
When it comes to health literacy, students should be afforded the educational opportunities to improve their health literacy.
How do you grade?
- Students on our campus are extremely health literate. They know their health policies inside and out.
- Our student body is somewhat knowledgeable, but most students remain unaware of their health care options.
- Most of our students remain unaware they have coverage options available.
- Our campus has no student health insurance program.
Teach Students About Their Health Insurance Options
Your college or university can establish a curriculum to help students learn the basics of health insurance, preventive care, and early treatment for the benefit of long-term health.
Adequately educating your students on health insurance policies, terms, and available benefits will set them up for a life of financial stability. A primary obstacle for students, particularly entering first-year students, is access to affordable health insurance options. By making insurance education part of their overall learning journey, you can help students absorb the concepts that are critical for navigating our nation’s health care system.
The end goal is to help all students, including part-time students and international students, make informed decisions about their health care and to help them choose a suitable student health insurance plan (SHIP). This can all be done during their initial orientation experience.
Extra Credit: Gamify Health Learning
The act of gamifying the process of learning about campus health insurance makes the process fun and motivates students and staff to stay healthy. With trivia-style platforms, like this one by EdLogics, students become even more excited to learn about their individual plan options. They also get rewarded the more they participate.
Student health rewards can come in the form of discounts on health services like gyms and nutrition classes, as well as lowered insurance premiums for continuing to stay healthy.
Question: Do students know where to turn to get immediate medical care and mental health care?
University students are some of the healthiest demographically, but they also face many health challenges like alcohol abuse, sexually transmitted diseases, mono, and the flu.
Chronic health issues should also be considered. 34% of all students come to school with a chronic condition, and this may be the first time they are managing the condition on their own away from home.
Students should know where to go to receive the care they need. The health care provided should be swift with in-network providers available both on and off-campus. The goal is to lower students’ economic burden while maintaining a healthier learning environment.
Not only do students face physical health challenges, but mental health is a growing problem on college and university campuses around the country. Many students are away from home for the first time. Not having resources to turn to when mental health declines can derail students’ academic careers.
The problem is not only relegated to U.S.-based institutions. A study from just a few years ago showed that 35% of students in eight countries struggled with mental health, with a focus on anxiety and depression. The COVID-19 pandemic has made the mental health problem on campuses even more severe.
To combat this problem, colleges and universities should look for innovative ways to make health care accessible to all students, in particular mental health care. The institutions that are doing it right have resources students can turn to immediately when they need it, whether they have a sore throat or severe depression.
How do you grade?
- All students know where to go and what to do to receive adequate health care quickly and at an affordable cost.
- We do offer health care and mental health care, but our departments are disjointed.
- Students have to navigate a complex system to receive adequate and affordable health care.
- There is much work to be done with regard to the efficiency of our campus health program.
Make Health Care and Mental Health Care a Priority for Students and Staff
Your campus health care program should emphasize where to go and the processes to follow in order for both staff and students to receive the care they need. Staff should be taught to respond to the needs of students to ensure their health and to guard against the decline of mental health.
Use Technology to Improve Health Care Access
Smartphones may or may not be allowed in class, but these amazing tools can be invaluable for connecting your students to your campus-wide health care program. With telehealth medical services, students can visit with a physician remotely from wherever they happen to be. Care can be transferred to an off-line location quickly, including emergency medical care when needed. If medications are required, the student can pick up their prescriptions from the campus pharmacy. This makes for a seamless health experience.
Togetherall is another option for students in need. The online platform offers safe, online support for students to share feelings and receive much-needed mental health assistance. The goal is to improve mental health and well-being by putting students in contact with a community who cares. Togetherall is free for students at participating universities and colleges across the U.S.
Keep Students Updated When Health Insurance Options Change
Technology can also be used to keep students and staff updated when health insurance policies and their options change in any way. Ideally, yours will be an effortless system that leaves students feeling assured that their health is a priority. From the student health center and campus health pharmacy to emergency care services, students can know they will always receive the low-cost, low-stress care they need.
Question: Are your student health insurance options customizable for each individual’s needs?
A beautiful aspect of the college experience is meeting people from diverse backgrounds and from all walks of life. Every student is unique with distinct needs, and health care is no exception. Your health care plan should address healthy students and those with chronic health issues alike. Therefore, the ideal SHIP plan and wellness programs would be designed to encompass the demographics of your student body as a whole.
How do you grade?
- Each student has access to a health care plan that is designed to match the needs of the entire student body.
- Students have some options to customize but not as much as many would prefer.
- Our plans are largely the same from student to student.
- We have a template-based insurance program that is not customizable at all
Use Data to Bolster Your Campus Health Insurance Program
Colleges and universities can play the guessing game as to which plans would benefit their students the most. But the best way to approach campus insurance options is to use cold, hard data to guide your decisions.
Colleges and universities should be assessing health-related data on a constant basis to readily respond to the growing needs of the distinct individuals that comprise their student body.
The problem is that most colleges and university health care programs are so disjointed that data is varied, disorganized, and many administrators don’t know where to begin.
Outsource Data Collection to a University Health Insurance Consultant
As many students learn with higher education, sometimes the best way to approach a problem is with a new perspective. Instead of looking at your campus health program from the inside out, it would be more useful to get a specialist to look at your problem from the outside in.
A college or university healthcare consultant can analyze your campus healthcare program to determine areas where infrastructural and training resources could help make care more efficient. A consultant can help develop a system that gives students seamless care, including mental health care. The program can infuse education, and technological resources, including learning gamification, to ensure health remains a campus-wide priority.
Most importantly, the data that can be gleaned from such a program will keep your insurance policy offerings tailored to the needs of your unique students. With education, health care, and attention on student mental health, your college or university will become even more attractive for new enrollees each semester.
By now you should have some idea of where your healthcare program grades if a survey were to circulate around campus at this very moment. There is always time to turn things around.
You can give your students the best chance in life, easy access to health insurance information, and emergency health care, by working with HORAN.
Why Choose HORAN as Your Campus Health Insurance Consultant?
- We serve colleges and universities in 48 states with over 70 years as a trusted insurance advisor.
- Our clients recommend us with a 94% net promoter score, making us one of the top 2% of insurance agencies nationwide.
- Our service team combined with the strength of our data platform, HORANalytics, revolutionizes healthcare delivery by leveraging claims, health & well-being, and student engagement data to produce actionable insights.
- We focus on data-driven, gamified, and total campus health to take the administrative burden off you.
- When working with HORAN, your institution will experience reduced administrative burden, lower cost, and increased plan engagement.
When you are ready for a unique approach to your campus healthcare program for long-term results, contact us to schedule a consultation. We are also happy to answer any questions you might have regarding health insurance-related matters as they pertain to your college or university. Visit our Campus Health webpage to fill out a simple contact form or get in touch with Chris Mihin, HORAN Campus Health Vice President and Managing Principal, at ChrisM@horanassoc.com or 800-544-8306.