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popsicle graphicWhy do you need health insurance? Medical bills are expensive! Most people cannot afford to pay for expensive surgeries, procedures, or mental health services out of pocket. In order to pay the costs, people sign up for health insurance. The insurance will reduce the price of the bill or cover it entirely, depending on the procedure and strength of the insurance policy. Adults over the age of twenty six may receive health insurance through their employer, or purchase a plan directly from a health insurance company. People under the age of twenty six can receive also receive insurance from their employer, but may also be covered under their insurance plan. Most four year colleges require you to have some form of insurance!

If you have health insurance while in college, you are able to go to health services on campus or to any surrounding medical office, and get treated for any illness for little to no money. You are able to get your prescriptions filled at the nearby pharmacy, the same way you would at home.

Four year universities typically give students two options with regards to health coverage; you can either purchase a health insurance package that is offered by that specific institution or you have the opportunity to waive their coverage and remain on your legal guardians health insurance policy. If you choose to remain on your legal guardians health insurance policy, you will have to provide proper documentation to the university you are attending. Each respective school will provide specific information on how to complete the waiver process; with this being said, It is important that you continue to check your email and school-portals for any updates regarding the status of your health insurance. As mentioned before, It is a requirement for all students attending four year universities to have some form of health insurance coverage.

Whereas community colleges in North Carolina generally do not require students to be insured, it is always a great idea to check with each individual college for options. Students, often times are midlead into assuming community colleges do not offer affordable health care coverage. Community college students who wish to purchase health insurance should consider options through the North Carolina Community College Student Health Plan (NCCCSHP) through UnitedHealthcare.

Immunizations? 

You mean those shots I got when I was 5? Yes. To clarify, those documents that have your shot and vaccine records are called your immunization documents. So we decided to enlist your and our friends at WebMD (don’t act like you don’t self-diagnose yourself like we do with the help of this pal) to explain a little further the importance of keeping up-to-date immunizations and why colleges need this paperwork:

Per webMD, “College presents a new world of opportunity, and a new world of risks. Communal living spaces, less-than-sanitary conditions, and irregular sleeping habits all can leave students vulnerable to disease.”

This means prevention is key, says William Schaffner, MD, president of the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases. Schaffner, who is also chair of preventive medicine and an infectious diseases professor at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, spoke with WebMD about the most important vaccines for incoming freshmen.

Q&A Time:

What are the top vaccines that college students need? 

“Each patient will have a different situation, and their medical records can bring them up to date. Overall, the ones I’d emphasize are meningitis and hepatitis B.”

“Almost every college requires or strongly recommends students be vaccinated for meningitis, especially if they plan to live in the dorms. Close quarters make it easier for bacteria to spread.”

“Hepatitis B is a blood-borne infection, but can also be transmitted through sexual activity. The disease can have long-term liver consequences. The hepatitis B vaccine is a three-dose series, and might be among the safest vaccines ever made.”

“I would also recommend the combined tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis vaccine.”

I’m underage. Do I need parental permission to get vaccinated?

“Parental consent is required.”

Will my college’s student health center provide vaccinations? 

“That depends a great deal on the school. Students should check into whether it is provided and whether the cost is covered.”

what do I need to watch out for in the hours or days after vaccination? 

“Nothing serious. People might tell you to call back if you run a fever, but on the whole these are remarkably safe vaccines.”

I have no idea what shots I got when I was a kid. My parents took care of all that. What do I need to do — call my pediatrician back home? 

“Most colleges send you a health form to fill out before you go. That’s your opportunity to visit your pediatrician and talk about your immunization record. But of course, you can always contact your doctor any time with questions.”

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