Learning how to navigate health care in the U.S. is not only a daunting task for many St. Olaf students, health literacy is a national concern for many people of all ages.
In response, this page was made by St. Olaf students in order to provide students with the tools and support to help them tools to navigate health care with more confidence. By guiding our research based on student data along with staff and student interviews, this webpage covers a wide array of health care issues that students identify struggling with.
Health Insurance is a way to protect yourself against large medical costs due to illness or accidents. In the United States, there is no single-payer healthcare system, so Americans rely on a combination of public and private health insurers for coverage. The majority of people in the US are covered under plans provided by employers, or under public programs such as Medicaid.
In the United States, people who are under 26 years of age can stay on their parents’ insurance policies. This means that the majority of domestic students can remain on their parent’s health insurance plans throughout college.
Here are some common terms used on health insurance plans:
Deductible – the amount you pay before your insurance “kicks in” and starts paying for things
Copayment – A fixed amount ($20, for example) you pay for a covered health care service after you’ve paid your deductible
Out of pocket limit – the maximum amount that you will pay for any medical service through your insurance
Premium – The amount you pay for your health insurance every month. For St. Olaf plans, the premium is usually charged only once or twice a year.
Referral – one more “general” doctor usually recommends that you see a specialist
Example: your therapist recommends (refers) you see a specific psychiatrist so you can be prescribed medications for depression.
For more help with understanding health insurance language, check out the Health Insurance Term Glossary, which is an easy-to-navigate website that has clear, understandable definitions for the majority of health insurance terms.
In order to find out what’s covered by your health insurance, you will need to check your plan. For most cases, your summary of benefits can provide you with most of the information about what’s covered or not covered with your plan. However, this is a shortened summary of your plan and often doesn’t address finer details of what is covered, so if you have a specific health care need that you want to check and see if it’s covered or not, check your full plan.
Most health insurance plan doesn’t cover dental or eye care, but it is good to get routine check-ups in both areas. This is because the health of both your teeth and your eyes can impact the rest of your body and can heavily influence the quality of your life.
If you are looking to get dental or eye care, separate insurance plans are available to cover dental and eye care. Once you have dental or eye insurance, the majority of preventative care for both will be covered by your insurance plan.