October 13, 2016

International students face limited medical assistance while attending university

An international student from Nigeria getting her Masters in Communication, had a medical emergency while on campus last week.

Being new to the country and to the university, she did not know where she could go to receive medical help. Her only knowledge was that she could go to the Health and Wellness Center – but it was 8 p.m. and the clinic was no longer open.

Not knowing what to do, she asked some students who were sitting in a lounge area for help. They eventually called 911 for her, but she is still trying to figure out what her insurance is covering.

This student, who wished to remain unnamed, is one of the many international students at Cleveland State who struggles to understand their healthcare.

International students are required to have health insurance just like every other student at Cleveland State, according to Harlan Smith, Cleveland State’s executive director of the International Center.

“All CSU international students are required to have and maintain health insurance coverage – this is a U.S. federal government regulatory requirement for F-1 and J-1 students – and Cleveland State also requires proof of coverage for all students,” Smith said.

“The CSU student health insurance policy covers basic health care needs and it also allows CSU students to visit Student Health Services for general office visits, reproductive health needs and for flu shots.”

Students are encouraged by Cleveland State staff to visit an urgent care facility outside of school clinic hours, but an emergency room visit will only be covered by CSU insurance if they believe it is actually an emergency. They are also subject to any co-pays and the annual deductible, according to Eileen Guttman, the supervisor of Cleveland State’s Health and Wellness Services.

“If there is an urgent situation, the students can go to an urgent care center that is in network for the student health insurance such as [University Hospitals] urgent care,” Guttman said. “If it is an emergency, then they can go to the nearest emergency room for care.  If it is life threatening, then they would call 911.”

The Nigerian student is hoping to never have another medical emergency while she is studying in the United States and away from home, due to this unfortunate incident.

“I don’t feel like I was treated well and I never want to go back to the hospital,” she said. “Maybe the CSU clinic should be open longer hours so international students don’t have such complicated experiences.”


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