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Columbia Univeristy Medical Center
     
  
        
  
   Frequently Asked Questions
  
Insurance
How do I enroll in SHS?
If I have my own insurance do I have to enroll in the Aetna Student Health Insurance Plan?
How do I waive?
I am still covered under my parent’s health insurance. Is that OK?
If I have my own insurance can I waive the SHS fee?
Can I enroll in the Aetna Student Health Insurance Plan without enrolling in the SHS?
How do I download a temporary insurance card or access my insurance claim information?
Is there ever a circumstance when I can enroll or waive after the deadline?
  
Medical Services
Can I use a credit card at SHS?
Can I be seen without an appointment?
Will I have to wait a long time if I come in without an appointment?
If I paid the SHS fee, but have outside insurance, are the costs any different?
If I have an outside specialist who orders labs, can I get those done at the SHS?
What do I do if I need my blood pressure checked?
If an outside doctor has prescribed a medication for me that is available at the SHS, can I see the triage nurse to get it filled?
Do I need an appointment for prescription refills?
Can I get HIV and STD testing at the SHS?
  
Travel
What if I am traveling abroad and need vaccines or medication?
How do I get the vaccines and medications I may need for my trip
  
Vaccines
Do I have to pay for my vaccines?
  
Women’s Health
Who does the gynecology exams at the Student Health Service?
What if I need colposcopy?
What if I experience a sexual assault??
  
Occupational Exposures
What if I get a needlestick? Or blood splashes in my eye? Or I experience a sexual assault?
  

Center for Student Wellness

Have a question about Wellness Services? Do you want to participate in Yoga? Learn to study more efficiently?
       Click on the Center for Student Wellness to visit the CSW website and discover the many services they offer.

  

  
Insurance Questions
  
How do I enroll in SHS?

If you are a full-time student you are already enrolled. Part-time students, fellows, spouses or partners must see Kimberly Gonzalez, Enrollment Officer to enroll. Enrollment in the Aetna Student Health Insurance Plan requires SHS enrollment as well. Ms.Gonzalez’s contact information is: Telephone: 212-342-3946 Fax: 212-342-3947 Email: kg2261@cumc.columbia.edu
  
If I have my own insurance do I have to enroll in the Aetna Student Health Insurance Plan?

No. However, CUMC requires that all full-time students, including doctoral students, carry a comprehensive health insurance policy. You have the option of enrolling in the Aetna Student Health Insurance Plan or choosing your own plan that meets the criteria mandated by CUMC.   CUMC Mandated Insurance Criteria
  
How do I waive?

If your plan meets the mandated criteria you waive online.

  Fall: August 1 - September 30 (open enrollment - all students)
  Spring: January 15 - February 28 (new students/dependents only)
  Summer: June 1 - June 30 (new students/dependents only)

A waiver must be repeated each insurance year (8/17 - 8/16). If you waive as a new spring or summer student, you must waive again in the fall since a new insurance year has begun.
  
I am still covered under my parent´s health insurance. Is that OK?

First, compare your coverage to the CUMC mandated criteria. If it meets the criteria you can waive. Check the at at which you will no longer be covered on a family or parental policy (often the age is 26). To enroll when your family coverage expires, bring proof of termination to Ms. Gonzalez and complete an Aetna enrollment form.
  
If I have my own insurance can I waive the SHS fee?

Not if you are a full-time student. All full-time students must pay the SHS fee, which is separate from the insurance premium. This entitles you to unlimited use of the SHS. Check to see if your insurance reimburses our laboratory (LabCorp).
  
Can I enroll in the Aetna Student Health Insurance Plan without enrolling in the SHS?

No. Enrollment in the Aetna Student Insurance Plan requires enrollment in SHS.
  
How do I download a temporary insurance card or access my insurance claim information?

Click here for instructions
  
Is there ever a circumstance when I can enroll or waive after the deadline?

The deadlines are firm UNLESS you experience a life change event. If that occurs, bring proof of the event, as well as proof of alternative, comparable insurance coverage if you are waiving, or proof of termination of your prior insurance if you are enrolling, to Kimberly Gonzalez (kg2261@cumc.columbia.edu) in Suite 3E.
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Medical Services Questions
  
Can I use a credit card at SHS?

Yes. We accept Visa and MasterCard as well as cash, personal checks and money orders. There is a $40 surcharge (our cost) for checks returned for insufficient funds.
  
Can I be seen without an appointment?

We encourage you to make an appointment because it will minimize your wait. However, if you develop acute symptoms, and an appointment is not available, you may call and ask to speak to a nurse (especially if you do not live on campus), or come in to see a nurse. They have access to emergency appointments for acute situations. You may also see a nurse for birth control refills and immunizations or PPDs.
  
Will I have to wait a long time if I come in without an appointment?

You may, it depends on how many other students are also there. Generally, the waits are longest at lunchtime, and shortest early in the morning. During registration times the waits are generally longer (up to 45 minutes or an hour at peak times). Meet your health requirements early!
  
If I paid the SHS fee, but have outside insurance, are the costs any different?

There will be no charge for the visit nor for any lab tests we can do in house. If we need to send specimens to our reference laboratory we will ask you to pay our charge, which you can then submit to your insurance company. Any diagnostic tests done elsewhere must be paid by your insurance.
  
If I have an outside specialist who orders labs, can I get those done at the SHS?

Yes, you can. Have your physician write the tests s/he wants on a prescription or laboratory form, including: physician name, license number, telephone number, fax number, diagnosis with an ICD-9 code (all necessary for our insurance billing). Bring that request to the SHS. The triage nurse will review the labs. If they are routine, they can be done right away. If they are complex, however; or require special handling (eg, freezing or special containers), she will schedule a nurse appointment for you to return for testing.
  
What do I do if I need my blood pressure checked?

If your clinician has asked you to get some extra blood pressure readings, or you have a history of elevated blood pressure, you can come as a walk-in to see a nurse or medical assistant and they will check it for you.
  
If an outside doctor has prescribed a medication for me that is available at the SHS, can I see the nurse to get it filled?

No. The Student Health Service is a dispensary, not a pharmacy, so the prescription will need to be reviewed and, if appropriate, re-written by a SHS clinician. You will need an appointment for this initial evaluation.
  
Do I need an appointment for prescription refills?

If the prescription has been written by a clinician in the SHS, you may speak with a nurse (by phone or in person) and they will gather the necessary information. If the refill is approved by the clinician, it can generally be picked up or called in within 24 hours (1 business day).
  
Can I get HIV and STD testing at the SHS?

Yes. We can either send tests to the laboratory or do them on site. We can also do any other indicated STD or occupational exposure testing.
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Travel Questions
  
What if I am traveling abroad and need vaccines or medication?

For vaccines or medications that require a prescription you will need to see a clinician. When you are out of the country, any provider is considered to be in-network, so if you have the Aetna Insurance, you will be responsible only for the $25 co-pay, assuming that the amount Aetna reimburses is acceptable to the clinician you see. If you do not know how to locate a clinician, email medservices@assistamerica.com. (The number within the US is 1-866-525-1956).
  
What if I do not know what vaccines are needed for my trip?

Travel consultations may be scheduled by calling 212-305-3400 or via the web portal. Remember, it may take 4-8 weeks to complete required immunizations, so be sure to make your appointment well ahead of time. For additional information visit www.cdc.gov and click on Travelers Health.
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Vaccine Questions
  
Do I have to pay for my vaccines?

This is a complicated question. Basically, the answer depends on which vaccine and the circumstances that require your getting it. Influenza vaccine is always free. There is no charge for annual PPDs for clinical students or travel immunizations required for school-sponsored travel. All other situations will have to be reviewed with your clinician.
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Women’s Health Questions
  
Who does the gynecology exams at the Student Health Service?

All the clinicians working at the Student Health Service have extensive experience in women’s health.
  
What if I need colposcopy?

If you need colposcopy (looking at the cervix under magnification, often to take small biopsy specimens) because of an abnormal Pap smear, we will refer you to an outside gynecologist for your colposcopy.
  
What if I experience a sexual assault?

This can be a medical emergency, because HIV post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) is recommended if the perpetrator, or the perpetrator’s HIV, Hepatitis C and Hepatitis B exposure is unknown to you. PEP is most effective if begun as soon as possible after exposure, ideally within 1 hour. A gyn exam, with collection of evidence (a rape kit) is also recommended, particularly if you might ever want to consider legal action; however the exam does NOT require you to file a report with either the university or the police. Should this happen to you, please go to the nearest emergency room and contact the SHS or the clinician on call at 212-305-3400 - same number for both.
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Occupational Blood/Body Fluid Exposures
  
What if I get a needlestick? Or blood splashes in my eye? Or I experience a sexual assault?

These are clinical emergencies and you should come to the SHS immediately! Post-exposure prophylaxis, which may be indicated for both, is most effective if begun immediately after your exposure. If you are a victim of sexual assault, and the SHS is closed, call the clinician on call at 212-305-3400 and go to the emergency room.
  
Occupational Blood Exposures are a Medical Emergency-Wherever They Occur


A blood-borne pathogen exposure is not JUST a needle stick, but the exposure of non-intact skin or any mucosal surface to blood or other potentially infectious body fluids (e.g., semen, vaginal secretions, breast milk, CSF, peritoneal or pericardial fluid, saliva in dental procedures, or any fluid contaminated by blood).

Follow These Steps Immediately!
  1. Immediately cleanse the injury (soap and water) and if it is an eye exposure, flush with normal saline or water. If it is a mouth or nose exposure, flush with water.
  2. Immediately notify your resident, preceptor or attending to arrange for prompt counseling and testing of the source patient for HIV, HCV & Hepatitis B** (see bottom of page). Getting the source patient tested can potentially save you a month of prophylaxis, drug side effects, and many months of anxiety. Rapid testing is available days at NY Presbyterian.
  3. Let your resident know you are expected to seek medical attention immediately:

    • At the Student Health Service if you are at Columbia
    • At the Emergency Room if SHS is closed
    • If you are on an away rotation, the Occupational Health Service or Emergency Room of that hospital
  4. If you are away, or have to use the ER at CUMC, notify the SHS (days) or the clinician on call that an exposure has occurred (212-305-3400); we will be responsible for follow-up. If you are away, we will send you a questionnaire to fill out.
Occupational Blood Exposures are a Medical Emergency-Wherever They Occur

A blood-borne pathogen exposure is not JUST a needle stick, but the exposure of non-intact skin or any mucosal surface to blood or other potentially infectious body fluids (e.g., semen, vaginal secretions, breast milk, CSF, peritoneal or pericardial fluid, saliva in dental procedures, or any fluid contaminated by blood).

There Will Be No Charge to You!
  1. If you have the student insurance, the ER bill will be paid by Aetna. SHS will pick up the $50 copay.
  2. Use your insurance card for any medications prescribed. SHS will reimburse you for the copays.
  3. If you have other insurance, submit your bills to them for payment. SHS will reimburse you for copays on ER bills and prescriptions up to the limits of the Aetna policy.
  4. Save your bills, explanation of benefits, and receipts for reimbursement.
  5. Remember, if you have not notified us, we will not know to reimburse you.

Remember the acronym CITES


Clean, Inform (need for Immediate evaluation), Testing of source patient, Evaluation at SHS (or ER if SHS closed or you are away).


Please contact Dr. Bernitz (mjb239; 212-342-3941) or Jackie Paulino (jp2480; 212-342-3942) with questions about reimbursement or procedures.
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