COLUMBIA — Students will pay this semester for some of the most common lab tests and procedures at the MU Student Health Center.
On July 1, the health center began charging for certain tests that had been covered in the $92.78 health fee all students taking more than six credit hours are required to pay.
About 85 percent of the health center’s budget depends on the prepaid fee, said Ann Nadler, manager of the health center. The fee helps cover the center’s medical equipment and employees’ salaries.
Recent legislation has restricted the student health fee from increasing more than the consumer price index, Nadler said, so the health center made the decision to start charging for lab tests to help cover the increasing operating costs.
“One of the biggest things we’re concerned with is that we don’t want costs to be a barrier,” Nadler said.
The health fee still continues to cover unlimited office visits with physicians or advanced practice nurses in the primary care clinic and unlimited visits to health education professionals. The fee also covers four visits to a psychiatrist and four visits to a psychologist per semester.
“We don’t want to change anything more than we have to,” Nadler said.
Freshman Alecia Brandenburg, 18, said she has never been to the health center and doesn't have a basis for comparison. Still, she said, “I don’t know if paying for them is in people’s budgets right now.”
The health center's Web site states students will now be charged for lab procedures such as strep tests, mononucleosis tests and complete blood counts. The fees range from $10 to $50.
So far, Nadler said, most students have been all right with paying a nominal fee for lab tests.
Lindsay Gilmer, 22, a sophomore transfer student, said that at her previous school, Kentucky Christian University, some lab tests cost $5.
“I think it’s ridiculous that you have to pay for them at all, since it’s something you need,” Gilmer said.
The health center will also help students process charges to their insurance. However, the health center is "in network" for two insurers: Aetna Student Health, which is the university-sponsored insurer, and TRICARE, a military insurance provider.
As for the other insurance companies not in network for the health center, Nadler said some might pay for services and some might not.
Nadler does not anticipate any other new health charges for this school year.
“We want students to feel welcome to come to us,” Nadler said, “but the bottom line is that we do have to cover expenses.”