A freshman’s guide to navigating University Health Services

Savana Dunning

For a student living miles away from their usual doctor’s office, finding nearby health services can be difficult. Luckily for UT students, a doctor’s office is right inside the Student Services Building.

University Health Services is a one-stop campus health center for runny noses and aching appendages. It provides services ranging from regular medical check-ups to immunizations, urgent care, radiology and ultrasounds.

Sherry Bell, UHS consumer education and outreach coordinator, said the services are available to all students and UHS is willing to help students who have never navigated the healthcare system by themselves.

“We’re used to working with young people, and we know that many young people haven’t been the one to arrange their own health care or monitor it,” Bell said. “We understand that. We expect that. If your reaction is ‘I don’t know what I need to do,’ then call us and … we’ll say, ‘We’re going to help you figure that out.’”

After making an appointment online or by phone, the second step to using UHS is understanding its insurance policies. Every service UHS provides has a price. The bill starts at $10, which is the cost of most UHS office visits. If you are on an insurance plan, your insurance company pays for the services and the $10 fee. Students can check if their insurance policy is accepted on the UHS website. 

Bell said that although health insurance coverage is encouraged for all students, students without health insurance can still use UHS. Students without health insurance and students with Medicaid or Medicare pay for the services they receive at a lower rate than what insurance companies would pay. Uninsured students can also enroll in UT’s Student Health Insurance Plan, a medical coverage student plan required for international students. It covers all services at UHS. For the 2018-2019 academic year, the plan costs $2504 according to the UT International Office’s website. 

UHS is open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m to 5 p.m., but for those whose aches and pains show up after hours, UHS provides a free 24/7 nurse advice phone line. The line is operated by UHS nurses during regular UHS hours and by off-campus nurses at night. 

Kathy Mosteller, UHS associate director for nursing and clinical operations, said students can call the line for anything from simple medical questions to urgent care.

“It’s really whatever is on their mind, whether it’s more simple and they just want to talk it over or it’s more serious and complex, where we’re needing to send them to the emergency room,”  Mosteller said. “The goal is to help provide as much self care as we can because not everything needs a doctor’s visit.”

According to UHS’s 2016-2017 impact report, 47 percent of the student population visited UHS.

Neuroscience junior Sarah Campbell said she has used UHS several times and recommends students go for common illnesses. 

“I found that they’re really helpful when it comes to very common illnesses like the flu, a cold, pink eye,” Campbell said. “Usually, they’ll see you quickly, and if it’s just a common illness, they’ll send you to the pharmacy downstairs and get you right pretty soon.”